Theses Doctoral

Active Feedback Control of MHD Modes and Plasma Rotation Using Currents Driven from a Bias Electrode Array

Brooks, John Whitlock

The first large-scale study of magnetically-confined plasma for the production of fusion energy is scheduled to begin this decade and will answer many questions. Two critical issues are: (1) how to control and prevent non-axisymmetric magnetic perturbations that may drive harmful current and plasma energy into the surrounding walls, and (2) how to understand the relationship between plasma rotation, plasma confinement, and plasma stability.

To address both, this dissertation reports research with biasable electrode arrays in the HBT-EP tokamak. This work conducts systematic studies of driven current and achieves the first active control of plasma rotation and rotating magnetic instabilities with a toroidal electrode array. Electrode-driven current impacts the plasma in several ways. First, it can increase, decrease, and reverse plasma rotation as measured by Mach probes, which results in an altered radial electric field. By controlling the electrode voltage with an active feedback system, plasma rotation is controlled between 4 and 8 kHz. Second, by modulating the driven electrode current at fixed frequencies, spontaneous magnetic perturbations develop at the plasma’s edge. These distortions are field aligned, do not rotate, and match the magnetic helicity of the scrape-off-layer (SOL). Direct measurement of SOL current to collectors mounted on the wall, show that the SOL current is field-aligned with a filamentary structure. When a naturally-occurring rotating m=2 mode is present, magnetic measurements show that the two structures are superimposed with no obvious indication of coupling. Third, when the electrode current is driven at the natural frequency of rotating magnetic perturbations, the plasma’s proportional response increases, indicating a resonance at 9 kHz. Resonance is observed in the radial electric field, floating potential profile, plasma rotation, and magnetic measurements. Finally, when the electrode array is biased in quadrature and actively controlled, driven currents modify the rotation and amplitude of the long-wavelength rotating magnetic modes. When the quadrature electrode array is phase locked to the n=1 mode rotation, mode amplitudes are suppressed by as much as 50%. Suppression shows a clear dependence on a phase between the rotating mode and the driven current. These experiments show that the structure of SOL currents are field-aligned and demonstrate a clear relationship between biased-electrode driven current and the rotation and amplitude of helical magnetic perturbations.


  • thumnail for Brooks_columbia_0054D_16065.pdf Brooks_columbia_0054D_16065.pdf application/pdf 8.13 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
Thesis Advisors
Mauel, Michael E.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2020