The role of pressure flattening in calculating tearing mode stability

C. J. Ham, J. W. Connor, S. C. Cowley, R. J. Hastie, T. C. Hender, Y. Q. Liu

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2 Scopus citations


Calculations of tearing mode stability in tokamaks split conveniently into one in an external region, where marginally stable ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) is applicable, and one in a resonant layer around the rational surface where sophisticated kinetic physics is needed. These two regions are coupled by the stability parameter Δ′. Axisymmetric pressure and current perturbations localized around the rational surface significantly alter Δ′. Equations governing the changes in the external solution and Δ′ are derived for arbitrary perturbations in axisymmetric toroidal geometry. These equations can be used in two ways: (i) the Δ′ can be calculated for a physically occurring perturbation to the pressure or current; (ii) alternatively we can use these equations to calculate Δ′ for profiles with a pressure gradient at the rational surface in terms of the value when the perturbation removes this gradient. It is the second application we focus on here since resistive magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) codes do not contain the appropriate layer physics and therefore cannot predict stability for realistic hot plasma directly. They can, however, be used to calculate Δ′. Existing methods (Ham et al 2012 Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion 54 025009) for extracting Δ′ from resistive codes are unsatisfactory when there is a finite pressure gradient at the rational surface and favourable average curvature because of the Glasser stabilizing effect (Glasser et al 1975 Phys. Fluids 18 875). To overcome this difficulty we introduce a specific artificial pressure flattening function that allows the earlier approach to be used. The technique is first tested numerically in cylindrical geometry with an artificial favourable curvature. Its application to toroidal geometry is then demonstrated using the toroidal tokamak tearing mode stability code T7 (Fitzpatrick et al 1993 Nucl. Fusion 33 1533) which employs an approximate analytic equilibrium. The prospects for applying this approach to resistive MHD codes such as MARS-F (Liu et al 2000 Phys. Plasmas 7 3681) which utilize a fully toroidal equilibrium are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125015
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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