Microstability physics as illuminated in the spherical tokamak

C. M. Roach, D. J. Applegate, J. W. Connor, S. C. Cowley, W. D. Dorland, R. J. Hastie, N. Joiner, S. Saarelma, A. A. Schekochihin, R. J. Akers, C. Brickley, A. R. Field, M. Valovic

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52 Scopus citations


Spherical tokamaks (STs) have attractive features for fusion, and there is considerable interest in understanding their transport properties which depend on the underlying microinstabilities. STs are capable of operation with low magnetic fields and exhibit large inhomogeneity in the toroidal magnetic field. These factors strongly affect particle dynamics and the potency of magnetic perturbations, which correspondingly impact on the microstability properties of STs. This paper reviews previous microstability studies in ST plasma configurations and presents gyrokinetic microstability calculations for a range of ST equilibria, using the gyrokinetic code GS2. Microstability properties of L-mode and H-mode equilibria, from the MAST experiment at Culham, are compared. In MAST the shearing rates of equilibrium E × B flows usually exceed the growth rates of microinstabilities with kρi < 1 (including ion temperature gradient, ITG, driven drift waves) and are generally smaller than the growth rates of shorter wavelength modes with k ρi > 1 (electron temperature gradient, ETG, driven drift waves). Electromagnetic effects are significant at mid-radius in these MAST equilibria, where the local β ≥ 0.1. At k ρi < 1, strongly electromagnetic modes dominate over ITG instabilities, and these modes are found to have tearing parity in the H-mode plasma and twisting parity in the L-mode plasma. Numerical experiments have been carried out to assess the properties of the tearing parity modes and to probe the underlying physical drive mechanism. At shorter wavelengths the electromagnetic effects can significantly stabilize the ETG instabilities. Nonlinear electron scale microturbulence calculations for two surfaces of a MAST H-mode plasma suggest that significant electron heat transport can be carried via this mechanism. In an extremely high β ST equilibrium, which has been proposed as the basis of a conceptual ST power plant, electrostatic instabilities are fully stabilized, but tearing parity modes are predicted to be unstable over-wide range of length scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B323-B336
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number12 B
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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