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Numerical Simulations of the Radio-Frequency–driven Toroidal Current In Tokamaks

Y. Peysson and J. Decker

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 65 / Number 1 / January 2014 / Pages 22-42


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Radio-frequency (rf) waves are a powerful tool for improving the performance and stability of tokamak plasmas through heating and current drive mechanisms, allowing current density profile control and steady-state operation. From first principles, and taking advantage from the ordering between the various time and space scales, fast and powerful numerical tools have been developed to calculate the rf-driven current. The current drive problem in tokamaks is first introduced with the purpose of maintaining a steady-state self-organized toroidal magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium, such that a minimal amount of the fusion power has to be recycled to control the plasma current. The strict criterion that characterizes a steady-state discharge is derived from the response of the tokamak, considered as a transformer, and of the plasma, when an external source of current is applied. The calculation of a rf-driven source of current requires solving self-consistently a set of equations describing the dynamics of wave fields and charged particles in an inhomogeneous magnetized plasma. The range of applicability of these equations is discussed, as well as numerical methods developed to solve them, such as the ray-tracing code C3PO and the three-dimensional linearized relativistic bounce-averaged electron Fokker-Planck solver LUKE. Simulations of current drive by lower-hybrid waves are presented to illustrate the applications of our numerical tools. Current drive modeling includes the effect of electron density fluctuations at the plasma edge, and the case of electron cyclotron waves used for stabilization of the 3/2 neoclassical tearing modes in ITER is studied in detail. Finally, ongoing developments, including cross effects between momentum and configuration spaces, aiming at improving current drive calculations are discussed.

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