Three-dimensional distortions of the tokamak plasma boundary: boundary displacements in the presence of saturated MHD instabilities
The three-dimensional plasma boundary displacement induced by long-lasting core magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities has been measured in JET, MAST and NSTX. Only saturated instabilities are considered here since transient rapidly growing modes which degrade confinement and act as potential triggers for disruptions bring more fundamental concerns than boundary displacements. The measured displacements are usually small, although in extreme cases in MAST when the rotation braking is strong, a significant global displacement can be observed. The instability most likely to saturate and exist for many energy confinement times whilst distorting the boundary of ITER is the saturated internal kink, or helical core, which can be found in plasmas with a wide region of low magnetic shear such as the hybrid scenario. This mode can lead to non-negligible boundary displacements. Nonetheless, the boundary displacement resultant from core MHD instabilities in ITER is predicted to be less than ±1.5% of the minor radius, well within tolerable limits for heat loads to plasma-facing components.