Runaway electrons and ITER

Boozer, Allen H.

The potential for damage, the magnitude of the extrapolation, and the importance of the atypical—incidents that occur once in a thousand shots—make theory and simulation essential for ensuring that relativistic runaway electrons will not prevent ITER from achieving its mission. Most of the theoretical literature on electron runaway assumes magnetic surfaces exist. ITER planning for the avoidance of halo and runaway currents is focused on massive-gas or shattered-pellet injection of impurities. In simulations of experiments, such injections lead to a rapid large-scale magnetic-surface breakup. Surface breakup, which is a magnetic reconnection, can occur on a quasi-ideal Alfvénic time scale when the resistance is sufficiently small. Nevertheless, the removal of the bulk of the poloidal flux, as in halo-current mitigation, is on a resistive time scale. The acceleration of electrons to relativistic energies requires the confinement of some tubes of magnetic flux within the plasma and a resistive time scale. The interpretation of experiments on existing tokamaks and their extrapolation to ITER should carefully distinguish confined versus unconfined magnetic field lines and quasi-ideal versus resistive evolution. The separation of quasi-ideal from resistive evolution is extremely challenging numerically, but is greatly simplified by constraints of Maxwell's equations, and in particular those associated with magnetic helicity. The physics of electron runaway along confined magnetic field lines is clarified by relations among the poloidal flux change required for an e-fold in the number of electrons, the energy distribution of the relativistic electrons, and the number of relativistic electron strikes that can be expected in a single disruption event.


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Nuclear Fusion

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Academic Units
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
Published Here
April 28, 2017