Abstract

Significant deviations from well established power laws for the thermal energy confinement time, obtained from extensive databases analysis as the IPB98(y, 2), have been recently reported in dedicated power scans. In order to illuminate the adequacy, validity and universality of power laws as tools for predicting plasma performance, a simplified analysis has been carried out in the framework of a minimal modeling for heat transport which is, however, able to account for the interplay between turbulence and collinear effects with the input power known to play a role in experiments with significant deviations from such power laws. Whereas at low powers, the usual scaling laws are recovered with little influence of other plasma parameters, resulting in a robust power low exponent, at high power it is shown how the exponents obtained are extremely sensitive to the heating deposition, the q-profile or even the sampling or the number of points considered due to highly non-linear behavior of the heat transport. In particular circumstances, even a minimum of the thermal energy confinement time with the input power can be obtained, which means that the approach of the energy confinement time as a power law might be intrinsically invalid. Therefore plasma predictions with a power law approximation with a constant exponent obtained from a regression of a broad range of powers and other plasma parameters which can non-linearly affect and suppress heat transport, can lead to misleading results suggesting that this approach should be taken cautiously and its results continuously compared with modeling which can properly capture the underline physics, as gyrokinetic simulations.

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