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Publication# Global fluid simulation of plasma turbulence in a stellarator with an island divertor

Résumé

Results of a three-dimensional, flux-driven, electrostatic, global, two-fluid turbulence simulation for a five-field period stellarator with an island divertor are presented. The numerical simulation is carried out with the GBS code, recently extended to simulate plasma turbulence in non-axisymmetric magnetic equilibria. The vacuum magnetic field used in the simulation is generated with the theory of Dommaschk potentials, and describes a configuration with a central region of nested flux surfaces, surrounded by a chain of magnetic islands, similar to the diverted configurations of W7-X. The heat outflowing from the core reaches the island region and is transported along the magnetic islands, striking the vessel walls, which correspond to the boundary of the simulation domain. The radial transport of particles and heat is found to be mainly driven by a field-aligned coherent mode with poloidal number m = 4. The analysis of this mode, based on non-local linear theory considerations, shows its ballooning nature. In contrast to tokamak simulations and experiments, where blobs often contribute to transport, we do not observe the presence of intermittent transport events.

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The goal of thermonuclear fusion research is to provide power plants, that will be able to produce one gigawatt of electricity. Among the different ways to achieve fusion, the tokamak, based on magnetic confinement, is the most promising one. A gas is heated up to hundreds of millions of degrees and becomes a plasma, which is maintained – or confined – in a toroidal vessel by helical magnetic field lines. Then, deuterium and tritium are injected and fuse to create an α particle and an energetic neutron. In order to have a favorable power balance, the power produced by fusion reactions must exceed the power needed to heat the plasma and the power losses. This can be cast in a very simple expression which stipulates that the product of the density, the temperature and the energy confinement time must exceed some given value. Unfortunately, present-days tokamaks are not able to reach this condition, mostly due to plasma turbulence. The latter phenomenon enhances the heat losses and degrades the energy confinement time, which cannot be predicted by analytical theories such as the so-called neoclassical theory in which the heat losses are caused by Coulomb collisions. Therefore, numerical simulations are being developed to model plasma turbulence, mainly caused by the Ion and Electron Temperature-Gradient and the Trapped-Electron-Mode instabilities. The plasma is described by a distribution function which evolves according to the Vlasov equation. The electromagnetic fields created by the particles are self-consistently obtained through Maxwell's equations. The resulting Vlasov-Maxwell system is greatly simplified by using the gyrokinetic theory, which consists, through an appropriate ordering, of eliminating the fast gyromotion (compared to the typical frequency of instabilities). Nevertheless, it is still extremely difficult to solve this system numerically due to the large range of time and spatial scales to be resolved. In this thesis, the Vlasov-Maxwell system is solved in the electrostatic and collisionless limit with the Particle-In-Cell (PIC) ORB5 code in global tokamak geometry. This Monte-Carlo approach suffers from statistical noise which unavoidably degrades the quality of the simulation. Consequently, the first part of this work has been devoted to the optimization of the code with a view to reduce the numerical noise. The code has been rewritten in a new coordinate system which takes advantage of the anisotropy of turbulence, which is mostly aligned with the magnetic field lines. The overall result of the optimization is that for a given accuracy, the CPU time has been decreased by a factor two thousand, the total memory has been decreased by a factor ten and the numerical noise has been reduced by a factor two hundred. In addition, the scaling of the code with respect to plasma size is presently optimal, suggesting that ORB5 could compute heat transport for future fusion devices such as ITER. The second part of this thesis presents the validation of the code with numerical convergence tests, linear (including dispersion relations) and nonlinear benchmarks. Furthermore, the code has been applied to important issues in gyrokinetic theory. It is shown for the first time that a 5D global delta-f PIC code can achieve a thermodynamic steady state on the condition that some dissipation is present. This is a fundamental result as the main criticism against delta-f PIC codes is their inability to deal with long time simulations. Next, the role of the parallel nonlinearity is studied and it is demonstrated in this work that this term has no real influence on turbulence, provided the numerical noise is sufficiently low. This result should put an end to the controversy that recently occurred, in which gyrokinetic simulations using different numerical approaches yielded contradictory results. Finally, thanks to the optimization of the code, the gyrokinetic model has been extended to include the kinetic response of trapped-electrons, in place to the usual adiabatic (Boltzmann) approximation. For the first time, global TEM nonlinear simulations are presented, and the role of the zonal flow on heat transport is analyzed. This study will help in acquiring some knowledge on the less-known TEM turbulence (as compared to ITG). In conclusion, this thesis is one of the main steps of the development of ORB5, which is now a state-of-the-art gyrokinetic code for collisionless ITG and TEM turbulence, and has brought several contributions to the understanding of these phenomena.

Fabio Avino, Alexandre Dominique Bovet, Ambrogio Fasoli, Ivo Furno, Kyle Gustafson, Davoud Iraji, Benoît Labit, Joaquim Loizu Cisquella, Paolo Ricci, Christian Gabriel Theiler

TORPEX is a toroidal device located at the CRPP-EPFL in Lausanne. In TORPEX, a vertical magnetic field superposed on a toroidal field creates helicoidal field lines with both ends terminating on the torus vessel. The turbulence driven by magnetic curvature and plasma gradients causes plasma transport in the radial direction while at the same time plasma is progressively lost along the field lines. The relatively simple magnetic geometry and diagnostic access of the TORPEX configuration facilitate the experimental study of low frequency instabilities and related turbulent transport, and make an accurate comparison between simulations and experiments possible. We first present a detailed investigation of electrostatic interchange turbulence, associated structures and their effect on plasma using high-resolution diagnostics of plasma parameters and wave fields throughout the whole device cross-section, fluid models and numerical simulations. Interchange modes nonlinearly develop blobs, radially propagating filaments of enhanced plasma pressure. Blob velocities and sizes are obtained from probe measurements using pattern recognition and are described by an analytical expression that includes ion polarization currents, parallel sheath currents and ion-neutral collisions. Then, we describe recent advances of a non-perturbative Li 6+ miniaturized ion source and a detector for the investigation of the interaction between supra thermal ions and interchange–driven turbulence. We present first measurements of the spatial and energy space distribution of the fast ion beam in different plasma scenarios, in which the plasma turbulence is fully characterized. The experiments are interpreted using two-dimensional fluid simulations describing the low-frequency interchange turbulence, taking into account the plasma source and plasma losses at the torus vessel. By treating fast ions as test particles, we integrate their equations of motion in the simulated electromagnetic fields, and we compare their time-averaged and statistical properties with experimental data. Finally, we discuss future developments including the possibility of closing the magnetic field lines and of performing magnetic reconnection experiments.

2012António João Caeiro Heitor Coelho, Joaquim Loizu Cisquella, Paolo Ricci

We present the results of 3D, flux-driven, global, two-fluid electrostatic turbulence simulations in a 5-field period stellarator with an island divertor. The numerical simulations are carried out with the GBS code, which solves the two-fluid drift-reduced Braginskii equations and has been extended recently to simulate plasma turbulence in non-axisymmetric magnetic equilibria. The vacuum magnetic field used in the simulations is carefully constructed using Dommaschk potentials in order to describe a configuration with a central region of nested flux surfaces, surrounded by a chain of magnetic islands. In a similar way to the diverted configurations of W7-AS and W7-X, particles and heat, transported radially outwards from the core region, reach the island region, which effectively acts as a scrape-off-layer with the open field lines striking the walls at specific toroidal locations of the device wall. We find that the radial particle and heat transport is mainly driven by a field-aligned mode with low poloidal wavenumber, whose origin is investigated theoretically. The equilibrium radial electric field in the core is found to be in the ion-root regime, Er

2021