The spherical tokamak (ST) is a leading candidate for a Fusion Nuclear Science Facility (FNSF) due to its compact size and modular configuration. The National Spherical Torus eXperiment (NSTX) is a MA-class ST facility in the US actively developing the physics basis for an ST-based FNSF. In plasma transport research, ST experiments exhibit a strong (nearly inverse) scaling of normalized confinement with collisionality, and if this trend holds at low collisionality, high fusion neutron fluences could be achievable in very compact ST devices. A major motivation for the NSTX Upgrade (NSTX-U) is to span the next factor of 3-6 reduction in collisionality. To achieve this collisionality reduction with equilibrated profiles, NSTX-U will double the toroidal field, plasma current, and NBI heating power and increase the pulse length from 1-1.5s to 5-8s. In the area of stability and advanced scenarios, plasmas with higher aspect ratio and elongation, high β N, and broad current profiles approaching those of an ST-based FNSF have been produced in NSTX using active control of the plasma β and advanced resistive wall mode control. High non-inductive current fractions of 70% have been sustained for many current diffusion times, and the more tangential injection of the 2nd NBI of the Upgrade is projected to increase the NBI current drive by up to a factor of 2 and support 100% non-inductive operation. More tangential NBI injection is also projected to provide non-solenoidal current ramp-up as needed for an ST-based FNSF. In boundary physics, NSTX measures an inverse relationship between the scrape-off layer heat-flux width and plasma current that could unfavourably impact next-step devices. Recently, NSTX has successfully demonstrated substantial heat-flux reduction using a snowflake divertor configuration, and this type of divertor is incorporated in the NSTX-U design. The physics and engineering design supporting NSTX Upgrade is described.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics