Controlling marginally detached divertor plasmas

D. Eldon, E. Kolemen, J. L. Barton, A. R. Briesemeister, D. A. Humphreys, A. W. Leonard, R. Maingi, M. A. Makowski, A. G. McLean, A. L. Moser, P. C. Stangeby

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36 Scopus citations


A new control system at DIII-D has stabilized the inter-ELM detached divertor plasma state for H-mode in close proximity to the threshold for reattachment, thus demonstrating the ability to maintain detachment with minimal gas puffing. When the same control system was instead ordered to hold the plasma at the threshold (here defined as T e = 5 eV near the divertor target plate), the resulting T e profiles separated into two groups with one group consistent with marginal detachment, and the other with marginal attachment. The plasma dithers between the attached and detached states when the control system attempts to hold at the threshold. The control system is upgraded from the one described in Kolemen et al (2015 J. Nucl. Mater. 463 1186) and it handles ELMing plasmas by using real time D α measurements to remove during-ELM slices from real time T e measurements derived from divertor Thomson scattering. The difference between measured and requested inter-ELM T e is passed to a PID (proportional-integral-derivative) controller to determine gas puff commands. While some degree of detachment is essential for the health of ITER's divertor, more deeply detached plasmas have greater radiative losses and, at the extreme, confinement degradation, making it desirable to limit detachment to the minimum level needed to protect the target plate (Kolemen et al 2015 J. Nucl. Mater. 463 1186). However, the observed bifurcation in plasma conditions at the outer strike point with the ion B × ∇ B drift into the divertor makes this a significant challenge. If the divertor plasma were to reattach between ELMs, there would be a long (depending on delays in the gas puff system) window of high heat flux before detachment could be re-established. Thus, good understanding of detachment behavior near the threshold for re-attachment is required to properly tune an active control system to maintain ideal divertor performance without reattaching. The top-of-pedestal electron densities during dithering across the bifurcation and during stable marginally detached operation are the same within uncertainty, showing the need for local real-time measurements of the divertor conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number066039
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 4 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • control
  • divertor
  • tokamak


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