Controlled and spontaneous magnetic field generation in a gun-driven spheromak





Citation of Original Publication

S. Woodruff, B. I. Cohen, E. B. Hooper, H. S. Mclean, B. W. Stallard, D. N. Hill, C. T. Holcomb, C. Romero-Talamas, R. D. Wood, G. Cone, C. R. Sovinec; Controlled and spontaneous magnetic field generation in a gun-driven spheromak. Phys. Plasmas 1 May 2005; 12 (5): 052502.


This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
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In the Sustained Spheromak Physics Experiment, SSPX [E. B. Hooper, D. Pearlstein, and D. D. Ryutov, Nucl. Fusion 39, 863 (1999)], progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms that generate fields by helicity injection. SSPX injects helicity (linked magnetic flux) from 1 m diameter magnetized coaxial electrodes into a flux-conserving confinement region. Control of magnetic fluctuations (⁠δB / B ~ 1% on the midplane edge) yields Tₑ profiles peaked at >200 eV⁠. Trends indicate a limiting beta (βₑ ⁠~ 4% - 6%), and so we have been motivated to increase Tₑ by operating with stronger magnetic field. Two new operating modes are observed to increase the magnetic field: (A) Operation with constant current and spontaneous gun voltage fluctuations. In this case, the gun is operated continuously at the threshold for ejection of plasma from the gun: stored magnetic energy of the spheromak increases gradually with δB / B ~ 2% and large voltage fluctuations δV ~ 1kV⁠, giving a 50% increase in current amplification, Itor / Igun⁠. (B) Operation with controlled current pulses. In this case, spheromak magnetic energy increases in a stepwise fashion by pulsing the gun, giving the highest magnetic fields observed for SSPX (⁠~0.7T along the geometric axis). By increasing the time between pulses, a quasisteady sustainment is produced (with periodic good confinement), comparing well with resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations. In each case, the processes that transport the helicity into the spheromak are inductive and exhibit a scaling of field with current that exceeds those previously obtained. We use our newly found scaling to suggest how to achieve higher temperatures with a series of pulses.