Momentum conservation in current drive and alpha-channeling-mediated rotation drive

Ian E. Ochs, Nathaniel J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Alpha channeling uses waves to extract hot ash from a fusion plasma, transferring energy from the ash to the wave. It has been proposed that this process could create a radial electric field, efficiently driving E × B rotation. However, existing theories ignore the nonresonant particles, which play a critical role in enforcing momentum conservation in quasilinear theory. Because cross field charge transport and momentum conservation are fundamentally linked, this non-consistency throws the rotation drive into question. This paper has two main goals. First, we provide a pedantic and cohesive introduction to the recently developed simple, general, self-consistent quasilinear theory for electrostatic waves that explains the torques which allow for current drive parallel to the magnetic field, and charge extraction across it; a theory that has largely resolved the question of rotation drive by alpha channeling. We show how the theory reveals a fundamental difference between the reaction of nonresonant particles to plane waves that grow in time vs steady-state waves that have a nonuniform spatial structure, allowing rotation drive in the latter case while precluding it in the former, and we review the local and global conservation laws that lead to this result. Second, we provide two new results in support of the theory. First, we provide a novel two-particle Hamiltonian model that rigorously establishes the relationship between charge transport and momentum conservation. Second, we compare the new quasilinear theory to the oscillation-center theories of ponderomotive forces, showing how the latter often obscure the time-dependent nonresonant recoil, but ultimately lead to similar results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number062106
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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