Journal article

Overview of physics research on the TCV tokamak

The Tokamak a Configuration Variable (TCV) tokamak is equipped with high-power (4.5 MW), real-time-controllable EC systems and flexible shaping, and plays an important role in fusion research by broadening the parameter range of reactor relevant regimes, by investigating tokamak physics questions and by developing new control tools. Steady-state discharges are achieved, in which the current is entirely self-generated through the bootstrap mechanism, a fundamental ingredient for ITER steady-state operation. The discharge remains quiescent over several current redistribution times, demonstrating that a self-consistent, 'bootstrap-aligned' equilibrium state is possible. Electron internal transport barrier regimes sustained by EC current drive have also been explored. MHD activity is shown to be crucial in scenarios characterized by large and slow oscillations in plasma confinement, which in turn can be modified by small Ohmic current perturbations altering the barrier strength. In studies of the relation between anomalous transport and plasma shape, the observed dependences of the electron thermal diffusivity on triangularity (direct) and collisionality (inverse) are qualitatively reproduced by non-linear gyro-kinetic simulations and shown to be governed by TEM turbulence. Parallel SOL flows are studied for their importance for material migration. Flow profiles are measured using a reciprocating Mach probe by changing from lower to upper single-null diverted equilibria and shifting the plasmas vertically. The dominant, field-direction-dependent Pfirsch-Schluter component is found to be in good agreement with theoretical predictions. A field-direction-independent component is identified and is consistent with flows generated by transient over-pressure due to ballooning-like interchange turbulence. Initial high-resolution infrared images confirm that ELMs have a filamentary structure, while fast, localized radiation measurements reveal that ELM activity first appears in the X-point region. Real time control techniques are currently being applied to EC multiple independent power supplies and beam launchers, e. g. to control the plasma current in fully non-inductive conditions, and the plasma elongation through current broadening by far-off-axis heating at constant shaping field.


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