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Title: Final Technical Report for DOE DE-FG02-05ER54831 "Laboratory Studies of Dynamos."

Laboratory Studies of Dynamos: Executive Summary. The self-generation of magnetic fields by astrophysical bodies like planets, stars, accretion disks, galaxies, and even galaxy clusters arises due to a mechanism referred to as a homogeneous dynamo. It is quite simple to demonstrate the generation of a magnetic fi eld from a rotating copper disk coupled with a coil of wire, a device known as the homopolar dynamo. The device works like a magnetic fi eld ampli er with a feedback circuit: the differential rotation of a metal disk past an infinitesimally small seed magnetic field induces currents in the disk which, when coupled to a coil winding, can amplify the field until it becomes strong enough to slow the rotation of the disk. What is remarkable is that the same type of circuit may be achieved in a flowing conducting fluid such as a liquid metal in the case of planetary dynamos or a plasma in the case of astrophysical dynamos. The complexity of describing planetary and stellar dynamos despite their ubiquity and the plethora of observational data from the Earth and the Sun motivates the demonstration of a laboratory homogenous dynamo. To create a homogenous dynamo, one first needs amore » su fficiently large, fast flow of a highly conducting fluid that the velocity shear in the fluid can bend magnetic field lines. With a high Rm-flow, the magnetic fi eld can be ampli ed by the stretching action provided by di fferential rotation. The other critical ingredient is a flow geometry that provides feedback so that the ampli ed eld reinforces the initial in nitesimal seed field - a mechanism that recreates the feedback provided by the coil of wire in the homopolar dynamo. In the Madison Dynamo Experiment, this combination of magnetic ampli cation and feedback is feasible in the simple geometry of two counter-rotating helical vortices in a 1 meter-diameter spherical vessel lled with liquid sodium. For an optimal helical pitch of the flow the threshold for exciting a dynamo is predicted from laminar flow modeling to be at peak flow speeds of 5 m/s. Liquid metals tend to have viscosities similar to that of water yielding inviscid flows. Whereas the timescale for the dynamo instability is on the resistive dissipation time, the timescale for hydrodynamic instability of the shear layer is quite short meaning that the shear layer required to generate the magnetic eld is broken up by Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities. The eddies generated by large-scale flow drive instabilities at progressively smaller scale giving rise to a cascade of turbulent eddies driven at the largest scale of the experiment. The major contribution of the Madison Dynamo Experiment has been quantifying the role this turbulence plays in the generation of magnetic elds. Overall, the Madison Dynamo Experiment has now operated for about 1 decade and carried out experiments related to magnetic fi eld generation by turbulent flows of liquid metal. The principle thrust of research and indeed the main scienti fic outcomes are related to how turbulent flows create and transport magnetic fi elds.« less
  1. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
144NQ43; MSN103538
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) (SC-24)
Country of Publication:
United States
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; LIQUID METALS; TURBULENCE; MAGNETIC FIELDS Dynamos; liquid metal; turbulence; magnetic field; self-generation