Development and application of Eulerian and Particle-in-Cell gyrokinetic codes for studying the effect of non-adiabatic passing electron dynamics on microturbulence

In tokamak fusion plasmas, micro-turbulence transport is known to be the cause of large losses of heat and particles. The present work deals with the study of electrostatic micro-turbulence transport driven by instabilities of essentially two types: the ion temperature gradient (ITG) modes and the trapped electron modes (TEM). The plasma is described within the gyrokinetic framework, which permits to save computational resources compared to the classical Vlasov kinetic description. In gyrokinetic simulations of fusion plasmas, the passing electrons are often assumed fast enough so that they respond instantaneously to the electrostatic perturbations. In this case, their response is computed adiabatically instead of kinetically. The main advantage is that this simplified model for the electron response is less demanding in computational resources. This assumption is nonetheless incorrect, in particular near mode rational surfaces where the non-adiabatic response of passing electrons cannot be neglected. This thesis work focuses on the study of this passing electron non-adiabatic response, whose influence on microturbulence is studied by means of numerical simulations carried out with the gyrokinetic codes GENE and ORB5. In the first part of this thesis work, the response of passing electrons in ITG and TEM microturbulence regimes is studied by making use of the flux-tube version of the GENE code. Results are obtained using two different electron models, fully kinetic and hybrid. In the hybrid model, passing particles are forced to respond adiabatically while trapped are handled kinetically. Comparing linear eigenmodes obtained with these two models enables one to systematically isolate fine radial structures located at corresponding mode rational surfaces, clearly resulting from the non-adiabatic passing-electron response. Nonlinear simulations show that these fine structures on the non-axisymmetric modes survive in the turbulent phase. Furthermore, through nonlinear coupling to axisymmetric modes, they induce radial modulations in the effective profiles of density, ion and electron temperature and zonal flows $E \times B$ shearing rate. Finally, the passing-electron channel is shown to significantly contribute to the transport levels, at least in our ITG case. Also shown is that the passing electrons significantly influence the $E \times B$ saturation mechanism of turbulent fluxes. Following this study in flux tube geometry, the influence of the non-adiabatic passing electron response near mode rational surfaces is further studied in global geometry with the global gyrokinetic code ORB5, in which a new field solver is implemented for the gyrokinetic quasi-neutrality equation valid at arbitrary wavelength, overcoming the former long wavelength approximation made in the original version of the code. A benchmark is conducted against the global version of the gyrokinetic code GENE, showing very good agreement. Nonlinear simulations are carried out with the new solver in conditions relevant to the TCV tokamak, with the physical deuterium to electron mass ratio ($m_i/m_e=3672$) and are compared to simulations carried out with heavy electrons ($m_i/m_e=400$). The particular spectral organization of the passing electron turbulent flux and its dependence on the radial profile of the safety factor are revealed. In particular, the formation of short-scale transport barriers is studied near low-order mode rational surfaces. Results show that quantitatively correct nonlinear fully-kinetic simulations of tokamak transport must be carried out in a full torus and with the physical mass ratio.

Villard, Laurent
Brunner, Stephan
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis7286-0

 Record created 2016-11-15, last modified 2018-01-28

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