Research on the Alcator C-Mod experiment at MIT has made an unexpected connection between two seemingly unrelated but important phenomena observed in tokamak plasmas: spontaneous plasma rotation and the global energy confinement of the plasma.
Plasma fluctuations, that accompany the low density, low confinement regime and disappear promptly at the rotation reversal may provide the link between these two seemingly disparate phenomena. Credit: John Rice, MIT
Self-generated flows, the spontaneous plasma rotation which arises even when there is no external momentum input, can have a strong beneficial effect on plasma transport and stability. But in a fusion reactor, unlike most current experiments, there will be little or no external rotation drive—thus it is crucial to understand and be able to predict plasma rotation under these conditions. In the discharges studied at Alcator C-Mod, the flows can reverse direction at a very precise transition point, depending on plasma density and current.
This flow reversal turns out to be tightly connected to the global energy confinement of the plasma. Since the early days of tokamak research (1970s), it was known that the energy confinement time (the ratio of the energy content of the plasma and the total input power) increased as the density of the plasma increased. This generated a great deal of excitement since one of the goals of fusion research was to operate at high density with good confinement, so this improvement was a bonus. At high enough density, however, the energy confinement stopped increasing.
The results of these experiments suggest that energy confinement and rotation reversal are closely related. At low density, where the energy confinement time increases with the density, the plasma rotates in one direction at roughly +5 km/s. Then at the critical density, the rotation direction reverses direction to values around -20 km/s and the energy confinement saturates. The critical density depends on plasma conditions, increasing with plasma current and decreasing with machine size.
These observations reveal the fundamental connection between the two phenomena and how they both depend on the nature of the underlying plasma turbulence. One hypothesis is that at low density, the turbulence is driven by trapped electron modes, which strongly degrade the confinement and which propagate in a particular direction. As the density is raised, these modes are suppressed, and turbulence driven by ion temperature gradients dominates. These modes at higher density regulate the confinement and propagate in the opposite direction. Evidence for this explanation is emerging from careful measurements of plasma fluctuations.
Saralyn Stewart | EurekAlert!
Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons
27.06.2017 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.06.2017 | Information Technology
27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy