Fusion energy promises baseload electricity generation with zero greenhouse gas emissions, a virtually inexhaustible supply of fuel, and significantly reduced radioactive waste, compared to fission and coal. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is now under construction, is the final step towards a demonstration power plant. ITER, will explore the hitherto uncharted physics of burning plasmas, in which the energy liberated from the confined products of reaction exceeds the energy invested in heating the plasma.
To access these conditions, ITER and other new compact tokamaks such as MAST-U will rely critically on external heating methods such as neutral beam injection. As the beam ions slow they can resonate with different Alfvén waves, and in turn eject particles from confinement. These Alfvén resonances, or “thermonuclear ringtones”, which can also be driven by fusion products, are a function of the magnetic geometry and density profile.
In this project the student will explore the full spectrum of modes permitted within the generalised MHD, MISHKA-3, which comprises the Hall effect. The primary objective is an investigation of Compressional Alfven eigenmodes: these are modes whose frequency extends to the ion cyclotron frequency range and its harmonics, and are driven by velocity gradients of non-Maxwellian energetic beam ions. CAEs, for which the theory is much less developed, are of programmatic importance to fusion, and have been observed in D-T plasmas in the Joint European Torus, and spherical tokamaks.