Seeing all the colors of the plasma wind

June 4, 2018, US Department of Energy
Credit: US Department of Energy

When it comes to plasma winds in a tokamak, researchers are always looking for the Goldilocks solution—one that is just right. Winds that are too high or too low can reduce plasma efficiency. Researchers at the DIII-D National Fusion Center are using a new type of imaging to help get the wind moving at just the right speed. Plasma winds are more commonly referred to as flows. Researchers are using coherence imaging to better understand the velocities of ions in the flow. The results will help design effective exhaust solutions. These solutions will improve fusion plasma performance and raise efficiency.

Flows with speeds over 40 kilometers/second can transport heat and particles long distances in the boundary of a fusion tokamak. When these flows are traveling too fast, or if they become stagnant, they can hurt plasma performance by allowing the buildup of impurities. Characterizing both impurity and main-ion flows with coherence imaging offers greater spatial detail than previous methods. It enables the detailed model/experiment comparison needed to improve models. In addition to greater spatial detail, the imaging datasets offer insights on extremely hot as well as high-performance plasmas. Scientists can use the datasets to investigate complex 3-D flows.

Coherence imaging measures red- and blue-shifted emission from ions radiating in the visible spectrum by combining an interferometer with a fast camera. The resulting are used to calculate the velocity throughout the camera's field of view. The resulting datasets benchmark sophisticated fluid modeling of the tokamak's plasma divertor.

In this study, researchers compared 2-D helium ion velocities in the scrape-off-layer and divertor regions of the DIII-D tokamak to state-of-the-art fluid modeling simulations using a sophisticated code. The velocity of singly charged helium ions traveling along magnetic field lines was predicted well by the model in the region close to the divertor plate where He+ is the dominant ion, and electron-physics dominates the momentum balance. Further upstream, where doubly charged helium (He2+) is the main ion species and ion physics becomes more important, fluid modeling underestimates the by a factor of 2 to 3. These results indicate that better understanding is required to predict the ion population's behavior in these challenging conditions and that there is still much to be learned about the role of ions in the tokamak divertor.

Explore further: New turbulent transport modeling shows multiscale fluctuations in heated plasma

More information: C. M. Samuell et al. 2D imaging of helium ion velocity in the DIII-D divertor, Physics of Plasmas (2018). DOI: 10.1063/1.5017999

Related Stories

Fixing deficits in boundary plasma models

October 27, 2016

Researchers working on the DIII-D tokamak in San Diego are working to show how plasma transport and atomic physics come together to provide power exhaust solutions.

Taming thermonuclear plasma with a snowflake

November 8, 2010

Physicists working on the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory are now one step closer to solving one of the grand challenges of magnetic fusion research -- how to reduce the ...

Recommended for you

New study explores cell mechanics at work

June 19, 2018

It's a remarkable choreography. In each of our bodies, more than 37 trillion cells tightly coordinate with other cells to organize into the numerous tissues and organs that make us tick.

The secret to measuring the energy of an antineutrino

June 18, 2018

Scientists study tiny particles called neutrinos to learn about how our universe evolved. These particles, well-known for being tough to detect, could tell the story of how matter won out over antimatter a fraction of a second ...

New form of matter may lie just beyond the periodic table

June 15, 2018

Currently, the heaviest element on the periodic table is oganesson, which has an atomic mass of 294 and was officially named in 2016. Like every element on the periodic table, nearly all of oganesson's mass comes from protons ...

A new experiment to understand dark matter

June 15, 2018

Is dark matter a source of a yet unknown force in addition to gravity? The mysterious dark matter is little understood and trying to understand its properties is an important challenge in modern physics and astrophysics. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.