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Suggested Citation:"Introduction and Background." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
Suggested Citation:"Introduction and Background." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.

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MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION 81 Past Achievements Neutral-beam injection has several features that have made it attractive for implementing experiments on numerous tokamaks over the past two decades. Since the beam is trapped by the plasma and transfers energy to it through two- body interactions, the physics involved is relatively straightforward and calculable, allowing the power deposition profile to be predicted accurately. The experimental flexibility has enabled neutral-beam injection to provide most of the heating for transport and confinement studies on tokamaks since the 1970s. Over this period, the injected power levels have been increased from the 100-kW range to 33 MW. Recently, neutral beams have produced ion temperatures up to 44 keV in some of the world's major tokamaks. Beams, including tritium, were used in some cases to produce more than 10 MW of fusion power. (See Figure 4.3.) Beams played an essential role in the discovery of peaked density profile enhanced confinement regimes (called Supershots) and the first demonstration of "bootstrap current," a gradient-driven self-current, on a tokamak. Neutral beams also are important for driving plasmas into H- modes and VH-modes. Future Prospects The neutral beams used on tokamaks over the past 20 years have all been based on positive ion sources (with an electron added in the neutralizer to form the neutral beam). The practical neutralization efficiency that can be achieved with the positive ions decreases very rapidly at deuterium beam energies of 120 keV and greater. Therefore, for future applications (MeV energies may be desirable in reactors), negative ion beams are more attractive. The achievable neutralization efficiency in an optimized-thickness gas cell is high for negative ion beams (58–60%) and is nearly independent of energy in the hundreds of keV to many MeV range. The roles for neutral beams in the future will include reliable plasma heating and central plasma current drive. Technical opportunities abound for improving the current density, brightness, and gas efficiency of negative ion sources, and for perfecting photodetachment neutralizers and plasma neutralizers that could permit still higher neutralization efficiencies. Radio-Frequency Heating and Current Drive Introduction and Background An alternative way to heat plasmas to high temperatures is by means of radio-frequency waves. Radio-frequency heating spans a very large range of frequencies, from a few megahertz (MHz or 106 Hz) to a few hundred gigahertz (100 GHz or 1011 Hz). (One hertz designates one cycle per second oscillation frequency.) The low-frequency end corresponds to the regime of Alfvén waves,

MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION 82 FIGURE 4.3 Photograph of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), located at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The major radius of the donut- shaped plasma is 2.5 m. Typical plasma currents are 2.5 MA at toroidal magnetic fields of 52 kG. Powered by intense neutral beams and with a deuterium-tritium fuel mixture, TFTR has achieved record ion temperatures of 44 keV and fusion powers of 10.7 MW in second-long pulses. (Courtesy of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.) while the high-frequency regime corresponds to electron cyclotron waves, which are resonant with electrons gyrating at their gyro (cyclotron) frequency or its harmonics. Other frequencies of interest include the ion-gyro frequency or its harmonics (30–200 MHz) and the ion plasma frequency (more accurately the so-called lower-hybrid frequency) at 1–4 GHz. The basic premise of rf heating is that an antenna installed in the vicinity of the vessel wall radiates electromagnetic waves that deliver rf power from a transmitter to the high- temperature plasma core where the power is absorbed by wave-particle resonances. For example, Alfvén waves and lower-hybrid waves may transfer their energy and momentum to electron motion parallel to the magnetic field by the process of "Landau damping" (named after the famous Russian theoretical physicist who first predicted this kind of resonant wave-particle interaction nearly five decades ago). The accelerated resonant particles eventually dissipate their energy in the background plasma by collisions, thereby heating the bulk plasma particles. If, in addition, the waves travel in a preferred toroidal direction (which can be

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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