skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Kinetically Stabilized Axisymmetric Tandem Mirrors: Summary of Studies

Abstract

The path to practical fusion power through plasma confinement in magnetic fields, if it is solely based on the present front-runner, the tokamak, is clearly long, expensive, and arduous. The root causes for this situation lie in the effects of endemic plasma turbulence and in the complexity the tokamak's ''closed'' field geometry. The studies carried out in the investigations described in the attached reports are aimed at finding an approach that does not suffer from these problems. This goal is to be achieved by employing an axisymmetric ''open'' magnetic field geometry, i.e. one generated by a linear array of circular magnet coils, and employing the magnetic mirror effect in accomplishing the plugging of end leakage. More specifically, the studies were aimed at utilizing the tandem-mirror concept in an axisymmetric configuration to achieve performance superior to the tokamak, and in a far simpler system, one for which the cost and development time could be much lower than that for the tokamak, as exemplified by ITER and its follow-ons. An important stimulus for investigating axisymmetric versions of the tandem mirror is the fact that, beginning from early days in fusion research there have been examples of axisymmetric mirror experiments where the plasmamore » exhibited crossfield transport far below the turbulence-enhanced rates characteristic of tokamaks, in specific cases approaching the ''classical'' rate. From the standpoint of theory, axisymmetric mirror-based systems have special characteristics that help explain the low levels of turbulence that have been observed. Among these are the facts that there are no parallel currents in the equilibrium state, and that the drift surfaces of all of the trapped particles are closed surfaces, as shown early on by Teller and Northrop. In addition, in such systems it is possible to arrange that the radial boundary of the confined plasma terminates without contact with the chamber wall. This possibility reduces the probability of so-called ''temperature-gradient'' instabilities, known to be endemic to closed systems. Finally, the open-ended nature of the field readily allows the control of the radial potential distribution, a circumstance that has been shown, for example in the Gamma 10 tandem-mirror experiment at Tsukuba Japan, to suppress drift-type instability modes. Standing against all of these attractive properties of axisymmetric mirror-based systems is the fact, shown early on, that such systems are prone to MHD ''interchange'' instabilities, one in which the plasma column drifts transversely, at a rate far above classical transport. Observed early on, the ''cure'' that was universally adopted, as first demonstrated in the famous ''Ioffe experiment'', was to abandon axisymmetry and employ so-called ''magnetic-well'' fields, ones in which the field increases radially and axially from its interior, strongly suppressing the MHD interchange mode, up to plasma ''beta'' values approaching unity, observed in the 2X2B experiment. When the tandem mirror concept was introduced in 1976 every experiment that was constructed employed various combinations of non-axisymmetric coil configurations (''Baseball,'' and ''Yin-Yang'' coils) to create the magnetic fields. But it came at a heavy price: non-axisymmetric fields gave rise to new non-classical loss channels, and the complexity of the fields introduced difficult engineering problems. It was well recognized at the time that it would be highly advantageous to preserve axisymmetry of the tandem mirror coils, but there was no apparent way to stabilize the ubiquitous MHD interchange mode. A decade later a way to accomplish this end was analyzed theoretically, and, a few years later successfully demonstrated experimentally, in the Gas Dynamic Trap (GDT) experiment at Novosibirsk. The concept: the presence of a sufficient amount of plasma on the expanding field lines outside the end mirrors of a mirror machine can act as an ''anchor,'' MHD stabilizing the interior, confined, plasma. Moreover, Ryutov's theory showed that the pressure of this anchor plasma could be orders of magnitude smaller than that of the confined plasma, and still be able to stabilize it. In the GDT, which operates in a collision-dominated region (as opposed to the near-collisionless mode of a tandem mirror), the effluent plasma, though much lower in density than that of the confined plasma, is sufficient to stabilize the central plasma, up to plasma beta values of 40 percent. Furthermore, once MHD stabilized, the confined plasma in the GDT exhibited no signs of plasma turbulence or enhanced cross-field transport, even in the presence of a substantial population of high energy ions produced by neutral-beam injection.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, CA (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
US Department of Energy (US)
OSTI Identifier:
15014626
Report Number(s):
UCRL-TR-209615
TRN: US200802%%1328
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 8 Feb 2005
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; CONFIGURATION; GEOMETRY; MAGNET COILS; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETIC MIRRORS; PERFORMANCE; PLASMA; PLASMA CONFINEMENT; PLUGGING; TANDEM MIRRORS; TURBULENCE

Citation Formats

Post, R F. Kinetically Stabilized Axisymmetric Tandem Mirrors: Summary of Studies. United States: N. p., 2005. Web. doi:10.2172/15014626.
Post, R F. Kinetically Stabilized Axisymmetric Tandem Mirrors: Summary of Studies. United States. doi:10.2172/15014626.
Post, R F. Tue . "Kinetically Stabilized Axisymmetric Tandem Mirrors: Summary of Studies". United States. doi:10.2172/15014626. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/15014626.
@article{osti_15014626,
title = {Kinetically Stabilized Axisymmetric Tandem Mirrors: Summary of Studies},
author = {Post, R F},
abstractNote = {The path to practical fusion power through plasma confinement in magnetic fields, if it is solely based on the present front-runner, the tokamak, is clearly long, expensive, and arduous. The root causes for this situation lie in the effects of endemic plasma turbulence and in the complexity the tokamak's ''closed'' field geometry. The studies carried out in the investigations described in the attached reports are aimed at finding an approach that does not suffer from these problems. This goal is to be achieved by employing an axisymmetric ''open'' magnetic field geometry, i.e. one generated by a linear array of circular magnet coils, and employing the magnetic mirror effect in accomplishing the plugging of end leakage. More specifically, the studies were aimed at utilizing the tandem-mirror concept in an axisymmetric configuration to achieve performance superior to the tokamak, and in a far simpler system, one for which the cost and development time could be much lower than that for the tokamak, as exemplified by ITER and its follow-ons. An important stimulus for investigating axisymmetric versions of the tandem mirror is the fact that, beginning from early days in fusion research there have been examples of axisymmetric mirror experiments where the plasma exhibited crossfield transport far below the turbulence-enhanced rates characteristic of tokamaks, in specific cases approaching the ''classical'' rate. From the standpoint of theory, axisymmetric mirror-based systems have special characteristics that help explain the low levels of turbulence that have been observed. Among these are the facts that there are no parallel currents in the equilibrium state, and that the drift surfaces of all of the trapped particles are closed surfaces, as shown early on by Teller and Northrop. In addition, in such systems it is possible to arrange that the radial boundary of the confined plasma terminates without contact with the chamber wall. This possibility reduces the probability of so-called ''temperature-gradient'' instabilities, known to be endemic to closed systems. Finally, the open-ended nature of the field readily allows the control of the radial potential distribution, a circumstance that has been shown, for example in the Gamma 10 tandem-mirror experiment at Tsukuba Japan, to suppress drift-type instability modes. Standing against all of these attractive properties of axisymmetric mirror-based systems is the fact, shown early on, that such systems are prone to MHD ''interchange'' instabilities, one in which the plasma column drifts transversely, at a rate far above classical transport. Observed early on, the ''cure'' that was universally adopted, as first demonstrated in the famous ''Ioffe experiment'', was to abandon axisymmetry and employ so-called ''magnetic-well'' fields, ones in which the field increases radially and axially from its interior, strongly suppressing the MHD interchange mode, up to plasma ''beta'' values approaching unity, observed in the 2X2B experiment. When the tandem mirror concept was introduced in 1976 every experiment that was constructed employed various combinations of non-axisymmetric coil configurations (''Baseball,'' and ''Yin-Yang'' coils) to create the magnetic fields. But it came at a heavy price: non-axisymmetric fields gave rise to new non-classical loss channels, and the complexity of the fields introduced difficult engineering problems. It was well recognized at the time that it would be highly advantageous to preserve axisymmetry of the tandem mirror coils, but there was no apparent way to stabilize the ubiquitous MHD interchange mode. A decade later a way to accomplish this end was analyzed theoretically, and, a few years later successfully demonstrated experimentally, in the Gas Dynamic Trap (GDT) experiment at Novosibirsk. The concept: the presence of a sufficient amount of plasma on the expanding field lines outside the end mirrors of a mirror machine can act as an ''anchor,'' MHD stabilizing the interior, confined, plasma. Moreover, Ryutov's theory showed that the pressure of this anchor plasma could be orders of magnitude smaller than that of the confined plasma, and still be able to stabilize it. In the GDT, which operates in a collision-dominated region (as opposed to the near-collisionless mode of a tandem mirror), the effluent plasma, though much lower in density than that of the confined plasma, is sufficient to stabilize the central plasma, up to plasma beta values of 40 percent. Furthermore, once MHD stabilized, the confined plasma in the GDT exhibited no signs of plasma turbulence or enhanced cross-field transport, even in the presence of a substantial population of high energy ions produced by neutral-beam injection.},
doi = {10.2172/15014626},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2005},
month = {2}
}

Technical Report:

Save / Share: