Particle transport in JET and TCV H-mode plasmas

Understanding particle transport physics is of great importance for magnetically confined plasma devices and for the development of thermonuclear fusion power for energy production. From the beginnings of fusion research, more than half a century ago, the problem of heat transport in tokamaks attracted the attention of researchers, but the particle transport phenomena were largely neglected until fairly recently. As tokamak physics advanced to its present level, the physics community realized that there are many hurdles to the development of fusion power beyond the energy confinement. Particle transport is one of the outstanding issues. The aim of this thesis work is to study the anomalous (turbulence driven) particle transport in tokamaks on the basis of experiments on two different devices: JET (Joint European Torus) and TCV (Tokamak à Configuration Variable). In particular the physics of particle inward convection (pinch), which causes formation of peaked density profiles, is addressed in this work. Density profile peaking has a direct, favorable effect on fusion power in a reactor, we therefore also propose an extrapolation to the international experimental reactor ITER, which is currently under construction. To complete the thesis research, a comprehensive experimental database was created on the basis of data collected from on JET and TCV during the duration of the thesis. Improvements of the density profile measurements techniques and careful analysis of the experimental data allowed us to derive the dependencies of density profile shape on the relevant plasma parameters. These improved techniques also allowed us to dispel any doubts that had been voiced about previous results. The major conclusions from previous work on JET and other tokamaks were generally confirmed, with some minor supplements. The main novelty of the thesis resides in systematic tests of the predictions of linear gyrokinetic simulations of the ITG (Ion Temperature Gradient) mode against the experimental observations. The simulations were performed with the GS2 code. The parameter dependencies of plasma density gradient, as observed on JET, are a good agreement with those from the simulations over a wide range. The simulations done for the TCV case, which are in a different physics parameter domain, are also in partial agreement with the experiment. Complete agreement is not out of the question, but will remain a goal for the future, when measurements of one of the most important parameters will be available. The good agreement between the experiment and the simulations suggests that the ITG instability may be responsible for the majority of the anomalous inward particle convection observed in tokamaks. Both the simulations and the empirical data extrapolations predicting a peaked density profile in ITER plasma conditions, instead of a flat one, as was assumed during the concept design period.

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