[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The object of this review is to summarize the achievements of research on the Alcator C-Mod tokamak [Hutchinson et al., Phys. Plasmas 1, 1511 (1994) and Marmar, Fusion Sci. Technol. 51, 261 (2007)] and to place that research in the context of the quest for practical fusion energy. C-Mod is a compact, high-field tokamak, whose unique design and operating parameters have produced a wealth of new and important results since it began operation in 1993, contributing data that extends tests of critical physical models into new parameter ranges and into new regimes. Using only high-power radio frequency (RF) waves for heating and current drive with innovative launching structures, C-Mod operates routinely at reactor level power densities and achieves plasma pressures higher than any other toroidal confinement device. C-Mod spearheaded the development of the vertical-target divertor and has always operated with high-Z metal plasma facing components—approaches subsequently adopted for ITER. C-Mod has made ground-breaking discoveries in divertor physics and plasma-material interactions at reactor-like power and particle fluxes and elucidated the critical role of cross-field transport in divertor operation, edge flows and the tokamak density limit. C-Mod developed the I-mode and the Enhanced Dα H-mode regimes, which have high performance without large edge localized modes and with pedestal transport self-regulated by short-wavelength electromagnetic waves. C-Mod has carried out pioneering studies of intrinsic rotation and demonstrated that self-generated flow shear can be strong enough in some cases to significantly modify transport. C-Mod made the first quantitative link between the pedestal temperature and the H-mode's performance, showing that the observed self-similar temperature profiles were consistent with critical-gradient-length theories and followed up with quantitative tests of nonlinear gyrokinetic models. RF research highlights include direct experimental observation of ion cyclotron range of frequency (ICRF) mode-conversion, ICRF flow drive, demonstration of lower-hybrid current drive at ITER-like densities and fields and, using a set of novel diagnostics, extensive validation of advanced RF codes. Disruption studies on C-Mod provided the first observation of non-axisymmetric halo currents and non-axisymmetric radiation in mitigated disruptions. A summary of important achievements and discoveries are included.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For the first time, nonlinear
gyrokinetic simulations of I-mode plasmas are performed and compared with experiment. I-mode is a high confinement regime, featuring energy confinement similar to H-mode, but without enhanced particle and impurity particle confinement [D. G. Whyte et al., Nucl. Fusion 50, 105005 (2010)]. As a consequence of the separation between heat and particle transport, I-mode exhibits several favorable characteristics compared to H-mode. The nonlinear
gyrokinetic code GYRO [J. Candy and R. E. Waltz, J Comput. Phys. 186, 545 (2003)] is used to explore the effects of E × B shear and profile stiffness in I-mode and compare with L-mode. The nonlinear GYRO simulations show that I-mode core ion temperature and electron temperature profiles are more stiff than L-mode core plasmas. Scans of the input E × B shear in GYRO simulations show that E × B shearing of turbulence is a stronger effect in the core of I-mode than L-mode. The nonlinear simulations match the observed reductions in long wavelength density fluctuation levels across the L-I transition but underestimate the reduction of long wavelength electron temperature
fluctuation levels. The comparisons between experiment and gyrokinetic simulations for I-mode suggest that increased E × B shearing of turbulence combined with increased profile stiffness are responsible for the reductions in core turbulence observed in the experiment, and that I-mode resembles H-mode plasmas more than L-mode
plasmas with regards to marginal stability and temperature profile stiffness.
Physics of Plasmas 05/2015; 22(5):056109. DOI:10.1063/1.4921150 · 2.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: New experimental observations are reported on the structure and dynamics of short-lived periodic (1, 1) “fishbone”-like oscillations that appear during radio frequency heating and current-drive experiments in tokamak
plasmas. For the first time, measurements can directly relate changes in the high energy electrons to the mode onset, saturation, and damping. In the relatively high collisionality of Alcator C-Mod with lower hybrid current drive, the instability appears to be destabilized by the non-resonant suprathermal electron pressure—rather than by wave-particle resonance, rotates toroidally with the plasma and grows independently of the (1, 1) sawtooth crash driven by the thermal plasma pressure.
Physics of Plasmas 05/2015; 22(5):050701. DOI:10.1063/1.4919964 · 2.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center and collaborators are proposing a high-performance Advanced Divertor and RF tokamak eXperiment (ADX) - a tokamak specifically designed to address critical gaps in the world fusion research programme on the pathway to next-step devices: fusion nuclear science facility (FNSF), fusion pilot plant (FPP) and/or demonstration power plant (DEMO). This high-field (≥6.5 T, 1.5 MA), high power density facility (P/S ∼ 1.5 MW m-2) will test innovative divertor ideas, including an 'X-point target divertor' concept, at the required performance parameters - reactor-level boundary plasma pressures, magnetic field strengths and parallel heat flux densities entering into the divertor region - while simultaneously producing high-performance core plasma conditions that are prototypical of a reactor: equilibrated and strongly coupled electrons and ions, regimes with low or no torque, and no fuelling from external heating and current drive systems. Equally important, the experimental platform will test innovative concepts for lower hybrid current drive and ion cyclotron range of frequency actuators with the unprecedented ability to deploy launch structures both on the low-magnetic-field side and the high-magnetic-field side - the latter being a location where energetic plasma-material interactions can be controlled and favourable RF wave physics leads to efficient current drive, current profile control, heating and flow drive. This triple combination - advanced divertors, advanced RF actuators, reactor-prototypical core plasma conditions - will enable ADX to explore enhanced core confinement physics, such as made possible by reversed central shear, using only the types of external drive systems that are considered viable for a fusion power plant. Such an integrated demonstration of high-performance core-divertor operation with steady-state sustainment would pave the way towards an attractive pilot plant, as envisioned in the ARC concept (affordable, robust, compact) (Sorbom et al 2015 Fusion Eng. Des. submitted (arXiv:1409.3540)) that makes use of high-temperature superconductor technology - a high-field (9.25 T) tokamak the size of the Joint European Torus that produces 270 MW of net electricity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Core impurity transport has been investigated for a variety of confinement regimes in Alcator C-Mod plasmas from x-ray emission following injection of medium and high Z materials. In ohmic L-mode discharges, impurity transport is anomalous (D eff ≫ D nc) and changes very little across the LOC/SOC boundary. In ion cyclotron range of frequencies (ICRF) heated L-mode plasmas, the core impurity confinement time decreases with increasing ICRF input power (and subsequent increasing electron temperature) and increases with plasma current. Nearly identical impurity confinement characteristics are observed in I-mode plasmas. In enhanced D α H-mode discharges the core impurity confinement times are much longer. There is a strong connection between core impurity confinement time and the edge density gradient across all confinement regimes studied here. Deduced central impurity density profiles in stationary plasmas are generally flat, in spite of large amplitude sawtooth oscillations, and there is little evidence of impurity convection inside of r/a = 0.3 when averaged over sawteeth.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alcator C-Mod, the high field, high density, diverted, compact tokamak in the world's portfolio of high performance plasma fusion devices, is heated exclusively with ICRF auxiliary power. In this paper an overview of recent results is summarized, with particular attention given to the importance of RF operation and the flexibility afforded by different heating scenarios. Besides the routine minority heating operation, results in the mode conversion heating regime are also presented (mainly direct electron heating through mode converted ion Bernstein waves). Recent attempts at improving plasma performance by establishing internal transport barriers (ITBs) by various transient profile control techniques (the so-called Advanced Tokamak mode of operation) are also presented. Future improvements in performance afforded by the recent addition of a new 4-strap antenna and 4 MW of tunable (40-80 MHz) ICRF power are also discussed. Mode-conversion current drive (MCCD) and fast wave current drive (FWCD) will be among the many new options that will be tested with the goal of improving plasma performance.