Drift wave stability and transport in tandem mirrors

Pratt, Jane Lillian
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In recent years experimental advances at the GAMMA-10 facility in Tsukuba, Japan have shown that tandem mirrors should remain an important subject for theoretical study. The absence of toroidal curvature and relatively weak internal plasma parallel currents in a tandem mirror gives the mirror system strongly favorable stability and transport properties compared with toroidal systems. GAMMA-10 experiments (T. Cho et al. PRL (97), 2006) demonstrate that sheared plasma rotation suppresses turbulent radial losses by controlling radial potential profiles. Achievements of the GAMMA-10 include 2.5 keV ion confining potentials and electron temperatures approaching 1 keV (T. Cho, Private correspondence, Dec 24th, 2006). Total energy confinement times for the GAMMA-10 experiment are significantly larger than corresponding empirical confinement times in toroidal devices. At the temperatures currently achieved in the GAMMA-10, the end loss rate [mathematical symbols] 100 ms so that radial losses determine the energy confinement time [mathematical symbol], as intended in tandem mirror reactor designs (R. F. Post, T.K. Fowler, et al., Fusion Science and Technology, (47), 2005). The most current measurements of [mathematical symbol] are on the order of 72 ms. Tandem mirrors exhibit a qualitatively different type of drift wave transport than do toroidal devices, as we have shown by developing confinement time scaling predictions (J. Pratt and W. Horton, Phys. Plasmas (13), 2006. W. Horton, J. Pratt, H.L. Berk, M. Hirata. Proceedings of the Open Magnetic Systems For Plasma Confinement Conference. Tsukuba, Japan, July 17-21, 2006). These predictions use a variety of standard transport models, e.g., Bohm, gyro-Bohm, and electron-temperature gradient models. We analyze electrostatic drift wave eigenmodes for the electrostatic potential and the magnetic perturbation in the GAMMA-10. We use teraFLOPS speed, large scale parallel computers to integrate the orbits in models of the drift wave losses in the GAMMA-10. We extrapolate these results to reactor designs for the kinetically stabilized tandem mirror reactor proposed by Post et al., and discuss implications for its stability, transport, and performance.