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Publication# Basic design considerations for a frequency step-tunable electron cyclotron wave system to suppress NTMs in DEMO

Konstantinos Avramidis, Emiliano Fable, Emanuele Poli, Giovanni Tardini, Minh Quang Tran, Hartmut Zohm

*ELSEVIER SCIENCE SA, *2021

Journal paper

Journal paper

Abstract

An Electron Cyclotron Wave (ECW) system will be used in the European DEMO for the stabilization of Neoclassical Tearing Modes (NTMs). In order to avoid movable mirrors in the harsh environment close to the plasma and to simplify the NTM launcher integration, the tuning of the ECW deposition location can be achieved by launching frequency-tunable ECWs from fixed mirrors while the frequency is tuned in discrete steps of 2-3GHz. An overview of the frequency step-tunable ECW system for NTM stabilization is presented. The design considerations are discussed based on the current DEMO baseline parameters and the status of technologies. A simulation of NTM stabilization with an idealized frequency tunable ECW system on an analytical NTM model is shown. The simulation takes into account a realistic tuning speed based on the present technology and considers the current NTM launcher configurations in DEMO. A simple sweeping strategy is adapted for the control of frequency. Various uncertainties, which will affect the feasibility, need to be further investigated.

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In magnetic confinement devices, the inhomogeneity of the confining magnetic field along a magnetic field line generates the trapping of particles (with low ratio of parallel to perpendicular velocities) within local magnetic wells. One of the consequences of the trapped particles is the generation of a current, known as the bootstrap current (BC), whose direction depends on the nature of the magnetic trapping. The BC provides an extra contribution to the poloidal component of the confining magnetic field. The variation of the poloidal component produces the alteration of the winding of the magnetic field lines around the flux surfaces quantified by the rotational transform ι. When ι reaches low rational values, it can trigger the generation of ideal MHD instabilities. Therefore, the BC may be responsible for the destabilisation of the configuration. This thesis is divided into two parts. In the first part, we present a self-consistent method to calculate the BC and assess its effect on equilibrium and stability in general 3D configurations. This procedure is applied to two reactor-size prototypes (both with plasma volumes ∼ 1000m3): a quasi-axisymmetric (QAS) system and a quasi helically symmetric (QHS) system with magnetic structures that develop BC in opposite directions. The BC increases with the plasma pressure, therefore its relevance is enhanced when dealing with reactor-level scenarios. The behaviour of both prototypes at reactor level values of β ≡ (kinetic plasma pressure)/(magnetic pressure) is assessed, as well as its alteration of the equilibrium and stability. In the QAS prototype, BC-consistent equilibria have been computed up to β = 6.7% and the configuration is shown to be stable up to β = 6.4%. Convergence of self-consistent BC calculations for the QHS case is achieved only up to β = 3.5%, but the configuration is unstable for β ≥ 0.6%. The relevance of symmetry breaking modes of the Fourier expansion of the confining magnetic field on the generation of BC is studied for each prototype. This proves the close relationship between magnetic structure and BC. Having established the potentially dangerous implication of the BC, principally, in reactor prototypes, a method to compensate its harmful effects is proposed in the second part of the thesis. It consists of the modelling of the current driven by externally launched ECWs within the plasma to compensate the effects of the BC. This method is flexible enough to allow the identification of the appropriate scenarios in which to generate the required CD depending on the nature of the confining magnetic field and the specific plasma parameters of the configuration. Both the BC and the CD calculations are included in a self-consistent scheme which leads to the computation of a stable BC+CD-consistent MHD equilibrium. This procedure is applied in this thesis to simulate the required CD to stabilise the QAS and QHS prototypes introduced in the first part. The estimation of the input power required and the effect of the driven current on the final equilibrium of the system is performed for several relevant scenarios and wave polarisations providing various options of stabilising driven currents. Several scenarios have been devised for each prototype in order to drive current at the appropriate location and with the desired direction. Different polarisations and launching conditions have been employed to this purpose. In particular, a HFS launched X2 ECW with an input power of 1.5MW has been shown to drive sufficient current to maintain the rotational transform below the critical value 2/3 at β = 6.4% for the QAS reactor. Correspondingly, in the QHS reactor, an X3-mode ECW of 100KW was sufficient to drive the current required to push the rotational transform below unity near the magnetic axis at β = 3%. Thus, stabilisation of BC-driven instabilities with externally launched ECWs has been achieved for both contrasting configurations. The method proposed in this thesis allows also the utilisation of EBW in the generation of CD. The possible advantages of EBCD for compensation studies are described as well as their possible application to the two prototypes under consideration. The BC+CD procedure is particularly interesting to investigate new magnetic geometries as potential candidates for fusion reactors. With this numerical tool, it is possible to assess the implications of their consistent BC when operating at reactor level. It also allows to quantify how much power would be required to maintain the system MHD stable in these circumstances. Nevertheless, this method is flexible enough to be applicable to any configuration.

This thesis is concerned with the physics of suprathermal electrons in thermonuclear, magnetically confined plasmas. Under a variety of conditions, in laboratory as well as space plasmas, the electron velocity distribution function is not in thermodynamic equilibrium owing to internal or external drives. Accordingly, the distribution function departs from the equilibrium Maxwellian, and in particular generally develops a high-energy tail. In tokamak plasmas, this occurs especially as a result of injection of high-power electromagnetic waves, used for heating and current drive, as well as a result of internal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities. The physics of these phenomena is intimately tied to the properties and dynamics of this suprathermal electron population. This motivates the development of instrumental apparatus to measure its properties as well as of numerical codes to simulate their dynamics. Both aspects are reflected in this thesis work, which features advanced instrumental development and experimental measurements as well as numerical modeling. The instrumental development consisted of the complete design of a spectroscopic and tomographic system of four multi-detector hard X-ray (HXR) cameras for the TCV tokamak. The goal is to measure bremsstrahlung emission from suprathermal electrons with energies in the 10-300 keV range, with the ultimate aim of providing the first full tomographic reconstruction at these energies in a noncircular plasma. In particular, suprathermal electrons are generated in TCV by a high-power electron cyclotron heating (ECH) system and are also observed in the presence of MHD events, such as sawtooth oscillations and disruptive instabilities. This diagnostic employs state-of-the-art solid-state detectors and is optimized for the tight space requirements of the TCV ports. It features a novel collimator concept that combines compactness and flexibility as well as full digital acquisition of the photon pulses, greatly enhancing its potential for full spectral analysis in high-fluency scenarios. Additional flexibility is afforded by the possibility to rotate the orientation of two of the cameras, permitting the crucial comparison of radiation emitted perpendicular and parallel to the primary magnetic field. The design of the HXR system was optimized through an extensive iterative simulation process with the aid of tomographic reconstruction codes as well as quasilinear Fokker-Planck modeling of ECH-driven TCV plasmas. In parallel, the selection of the detectors for this system was performed through comprehensive laboratory testing of several candidate detectors available on the market. While the design was completed in the course of the thesis work, commissioning of the system has only commenced recently with one of the four cameras installed on TCV. The first preliminary results, discussed in the last part of this thesis, include basic parameter scans of ECH wave-plasma interaction and the investigation of the dynamic response of suprathermal electrons to modulated ECH. In addition, the cameras possess the novel ability to discriminate against very high-energy γ-ray radiation that cannot be collimated and must thus be excluded from spatial distribution analysis. A basic study of the conditions for γ-ray suppression was conducted in preparation for future experiments. The Fokker-Planck modeling tool used in this diagnostic development was acquired through a collaboration with CEA-Cadarache, initially with the primary motivation of studying the simultaneous plasma heating by 2nd and 3rd harmonic electron cyclotron waves that is uniquely possible on TCV. This motivated a dedicated study, both theoretical and experimental, of one particular instance of this combined heating, which became a second primary subject of this thesis work. The particular scenario studied here is one in which a single ECH frequency is resonant at both harmonics in the same plasma. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether a synergy effect existed, permitting an enhancement of the intrinsically weak 3rd harmonic absorption by the suprathermal electrons generated at the 2nd harmonic resonance. An associated question was whether this effect, if it existed, was experimentally measurable or was in fact observed in TCV. The simulations performed in the course of this study indeed predict the existence of such a synergy, although the answer to the second question was ultimately negative, at least within the current technical limitations. This study has proven nevertheless highly valuable in providing new insight into the complex velocity-space dynamics that govern ECH wave-particle interaction and suprathermal electron dynamics.

Stefano Alberti, Konstantinos Avramidis, Falk Hans Braunmüller, Ioannis Pagonakis, Emanuele Poli, Minh Quang Tran

For the development of a DEMOnstration Fusion Power Plant the design of auxiliary heating systems is a key activity in order to achieve controlled burning plasma. The present heating mix considers electron cyclotron resonance heating (ECRH), neutral beam injection (NBI) and ion cyclotron resonance heating (ICRH) with a target power to the plasma of about 50 MW for each system. The main tasks assigned to the EC system are plasma breakdown and assisted start-up, heating to L-H transition and plasma current ramp up to burn, MHD stability control and assistance in plasma current ramp down. The consequent requirements are used for the conceptual design of the EC system, from the RF source to the launcher, with an extensive R&D program focused on relevant technologies to be developed. Gyrotron: the R&D and Advanced Developments on EC RF sources are targeting for gyrotrons operating at 240 GHz, considered as optimum EC Current Drive frequency in case of higher magnetic field than for the 2015 EU DEMO1 baseline. Multi-purpose (multi-frequency) and frequency step-tunable gyrotrons are under investigation to increase the flexibility of the system. As main targets an output power of significantly above 1 MW (target: 2 MW) and a total efficiency higher than 60% are set. The principle feasibility at limits of a 236 GHz, conventional-cavity and, alternatively, of a 238 GHz coaxial-cavity gyrotron are under investigation together with the development of a synthetic diamond Brewster-angle window technology. Advanced developments are on-going in the field of multi-stage depressed collector technologies. Transmission line (TL): different TL options are under investigation and a preliminary study of an evacuated quasi-optical multiple-beam TL, considered for a hybrid solution, is presented and discussed in terms of layout, dimensions and theoretical losses. Launcher: remote steering antennas have been considered as a possible launcher solution especially under the constraints to avoid movable mirrors close to the plasma. With dedicated beam tracing calculations, the deposition locations coverage and the wave absorption efficiency have been investigated, considering a selection of frequencies, injection angles and launching points. An option for the EC system structure is proposed in clusters, in order to allow the necessary redundancy and flexibility to guarantee the required EC power in the different phases of the plasma pulse. Number and composition of the clusters are analysed to have high availability and therefore maximum reliability with a minimum number of components.