ECR heating power modulation as a means to ease the overcoming of the radiation barrier in fusion devices

Research paper by D. Kh. Morozov, A. A. Pshenov, A. B. Mineev

Indexed on: 30 Jun '10Published on: 30 Jun '10Published in: Plasma Physics Reports


A method is proposed to ease the overcoming of the impurity radiation barrier during current drive in tokamaks, as well as in alternative fusion and plasmochemical systems with ECR plasma heating. The method is based on the fact that the dependence of the ionization rate on the electron temperature is strongly nonlinear and the dependence of the recombination rate on the latter is weaker. The result is that, during temperature oscillations, the effective temperature for ionization-recombination processes is higher than that in a steady state, so the ionization equilibrium is shifted and strongly emitting ions are stripped more rapidly. Thereby, ECR plasma heating in the initial discharge stage can be made more efficient by modulating the heating power at a low frequency. The evolution of the electron temperature in a homogeneous hydrogen plasma with a carbon impurity and in small ISX-scale tokamaks is simulated numerically, as well as the evolution of the electron and ion temperatures and of the current during discharge startup in the ITER device. Numerical simulations of the effect of modulation of the ECR heating power on the rate of heating of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon plasmas were also carried out. The assumption of coronal equilibrium is not used. It is shown that the low-frequency modulation of the heating power can substantially ease the overcoming of the radiation barrier.