Pedestal structure and stability in JET-ILW and comparison with JET-C

Time: Tue 2020-06-09 09.00

Location: zoom link for online defense (English)

Subject area: Physics

Doctoral student: Estera Stefanikova , Fusionsplasmafysik, Fusion Plasma Physics

Opponent: Dr. Joelle Mailloux, CCFE - Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

Supervisor: Associate Professor Lorenzo Frassinetti, Fusionsplasmafysik; Professor Per Brunsell, Fusionsplasmafysik


Controlled thermonuclear fusion offers a promising concept for safe and sustainable production of electrical energy. However, there are still many issues to be investigated on the way to a commercial fusion reactor. An important point for detailed studies is connected to wall materials surrounding hot thermonuclear plasma. The JET tokamak (the largest fusion experiment in the world) in the United Kingdom has completed a major upgrade in 2011 in which the materials of the vessel surrounding the fusion fuel have been changed from a carbon-fibre-composite (or JET-C wall) to Beryllium and Tungsten. These new materials are the same as those that will be used in a next step fusion device International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor ITER (hence the name ITER-like wall or JET-ILW), designed to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion reactor based on the tokamak concept. One of the goals of JET with the ILW is to act as a test bed for ITER technologies and for ITER operating scenarios.

The overall purpose of the thesis work is to characterise the effect of the ILW on the structure and stability of edge plasma phenomenon called the pedestal, a steep pressure gradient associated with the H-mode, an operational regime with improved confinement. The aim is to contribute to the understanding of the difference in the pedestal performance between JET-C and JET-ILW.

The work is focused on experimental characterisation of the pedestal structure in deuterium discharges by analysing the experimental data (radial profiles of electron temperature and density measured in H-mode plasmas) from Thomson scattering diagnostics at JET and on investigating the differences in pedestal stability between JET-ILW and JET-C plasmas in terms of the pedestal modelling. The pedestal structure is determined using a modified hyperbolic tangent fit to the experimental Thomson scattering profiles. The modelling is performed with the pedestal predictive code Europed, based on the EPED model commonly used to predict the pedestal height in JET.

The experimental analysis has shown several differences in the pedestal structure of comparable JET-ILW and JET-C discharges. One of the key differences introduced in this work is the pedestal relative shift (a separation between the middle of the pedestals of the electron density and temperature) that plays a major role in the difference in the pedestal performance between JET-C and JET-ILW. The work shows that the relative shift can vary significantly from pulse to pulse and that, on average, JET-C plasmas have lower relative shift than JET-ILW plasmas. The pedestal relative shift tends to increase with increase in the gas fuelling and the heating power. Furthermore, the increase in the relative shift has been empirically correlated with the degradation of the experimental normalized pressure gradient αexp.

To understand the differences in the JET-C and JET-ILW pedestal stability, parameters that affect the pedestal stability and that tend to vary between comparable JET-C and JET-ILW discharges have been identified. These parameters are the pedestal relative shift, pedestal density neped, effective charge number Zeff, pedestal pressure width wpe, and normalized pressure βN. The modelling performed with the predictive Europed code has shown that these five parameters are sufficient to explain the difference in the pedestal performance between JET-C and JET-ILW.

Furthermore, the modelling has shown that the relative shift and neped play a major role in affecting the critical normalized pressure gradient αcrit (normalized pressure gradient expected by the model comparable to αexp), while the relative shift, wpe and Zeff have a major impact on the pedestal pressure height. Finally, a possible mechanism that has led to the degradation of the pedestal pressure from JET-C to JET-ILW is proposed.