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Abstract

The results of flux-driven, two-fluid simulations in single-null configurations are used to investigate the processes determining the turbulent transport in the tokamak edge. Three turbulent transport regimes are identified: (i) a developed transport regime with turbulence driven by an interchange instability, which shares a number of features with the standard L-mode of tokamak operation; (ii) a suppressed transport regime, characterized by a higher value of the energy confinement time, low-amplitude relative fluctuations driven by a Kelvin–Helmholtz instability, a strong E × B sheared flow and the formation of a transport barrier, which recalls the H-mode; and (iii) a degraded confinement regime, characterized by a catastrophically large interchange-driven turbulent transport, which recalls the crossing of the Greenwald density limit. We derive an analytical expression of the pressure gradient length in the three regimes. The transition from the developed transport regime to the suppressed transport regime is obtained by increasing the heat source or decreasing the collisionality and vice versa for the transition from the developed transport regime to the degraded confinement regime. An analytical expression of the power threshold to access the suppressed transport regime, linked to the power threshold for H-mode access, as well as the maximum density achievable before entering the degraded confinement regime, related to the Greenwald density, are also derived. The experimental dependencies of the power threshold for H-mode access on density, tokamak major radius and isotope mass are retrieved. The analytical estimate of the density limit contains the correct dependence on the plasma current and on the tokamak minor radius.

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