Current drive for economic viability of thermonuclear fusion reactor*.

Cardinali A., Castaldo C., Cesario R., Napoli F., Panaccione L., Santini F., Tuccillo A.A.

II - Fisica della materia
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The main research on the energy from thermonuclear fusion uses deuterium-tritium plasmas magnetically confined in toroidal devices. As the major scientific problem for an economic reactor, we must understand how to lead strongly heated plasmas to sustain a high fusion gain while big fraction of current is self-produced via the presence of pressure gradient across the plasma column. To suppress the turbulent eddies that impair thermal insulation and pressure tight of the plasma, current drive (CD) is necessary, but tools envisaged so far for the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experiment Rector) are unable to accomplish this task that requires efficiently and flexibly matching the natural current profiles of plasma. Consequently, economical viability of a thermonuclear reactor should be problematic. Multi-megawatt radio-frequency (RF) power coupled to plasma would produce the necessary current drive, but modeling results based on present understanding found it difficult to extrapolate this CD concept to reactor conditions of high temperature plasma. Greater flexibility of method would also be required. Here we present new model results based on the standard quasilinear (QL) theory that allow establishing conditions to drive efficiently and flexibly the RF-driven current at large radii of the plasma column necessary for the goal of a reactor. (*) Accepted for publication on Scientific Reports (Nature Research Journal) 2018

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