A new scaling for divertor detachment

Robert James Goldston, M. L. Reinke, J. A. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The ITER design, and future reactor designs, depend on divertor 'detachment,' whether partial, pronounced or complete, to limit heat flux to plasma-facing components and to limit surface erosion due to sputtering. It would be valuable to have a measure of the difficulty of achieving detachment as a function of machine parameters, such as input power, magnetic field, major radius, etc. Frequently the parallel heat flux, estimated typically as proportional to P sep/R or P sep B/R, is used as a proxy for this difficulty. Here we argue that impurity cooling is dependent on the upstream density, which itself must be limited by a Greenwald-like scaling. Taking this into account self-consistently, we find the impurity fraction required for detachment scales dominantly as power divided by poloidal magnetic field. The absence of any explicit scaling with machine size is concerning, as P sep surely must increase greatly for an economic fusion system, while increases in the poloidal field strength are limited by coil technology and plasma physics. This result should be challenged by comparison with 2D divertor codes and with measurements on existing experiments. Nonetheless, it suggests that higher magnetic field, stronger shaping, double-null operation, 'advanced' divertor configurations, as well as alternate means to handle heat flux such as metallic liquid and/or vapor targets merit greater attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055015
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 29 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • detachment
  • divertor
  • impurities
  • radiation


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