Investigation of mode activity in NBI-heated experiments of Wendelstein 7-X

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The 2018 operation phase (OP 1.2b) of the stellarator Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) included, for the first time, neutral beam injection (NBI) to heat the plasma. Since the injection geometry at W7-X is not parallel, this generates both passing and trapped fast particles. During longer phases of NBI injection, with the primary purpose to study the heating efficiency of this system, Alfven eigenmodes (AEs) were observed by a number of diagnostics, including the phase contrast imaging (PCI) system, the magnetic pick-up coils (Mirnov coils), and the soft x-ray multi-camera tomography system (XMCTS). Alfven eigenmodes are of great interest for future fusion reactors as it has been shown that the resonant interaction of fast ions with self-excited AEs can lead to enhanced transport of fast ions and potentially to energy losses. This is especially true for so-called gap-modes, Alfven eigenmodes with frequencies in gaps of the continuous spectrum, since they lack continuum damping. These modes are commonly known to be excited by fast ions, but other destabilizing mechanisms, e.g. the electron-pressure gradient are also possible. In this article we present a first analysis of the experimentally observed frequencies from the theoretical side. The calculation of shear Alfven wave continua for selected cases and the assignment of observed frequencies to the gaps of the continuous spectra are presented. Using the ideal-MHD code CKA (Konies A. 200710th IAEA TM on Energetic Particles in Magnetic Confinement System), we find gap modes that match the experimental measurements in terms of the observed frequencies. We emphasize the crucial roles played by the coupling of sound and Alfven waves as well as of the Doppler shift arising as a consequence of the radial electric field in W7-X. We employ the perturbative gyrokinetic code CKA-EUTERPE (Feh ' er 2013 Simulation of the interaction between Alfv ' en waves and fast particles), using a slowing-down distribution function for the fast ions as calculated by the Monte-Carlo particle following code ASCOT (Hirvijokiet al2014Comput. Phys. Commun.185 1310-21) to assess the fast-ion drive. We find that the fast-ion drive is insufficient to overcome the background-plasma damping. The fact that unstable modes were observed experimentally may point to problems with the modelling or indicate the existence of other destabilizing mechanisms, e.g. associated with the electron-pressure gradient (Windischet al2017Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion59 105002) that sensitively depend on the profiles of the background plasma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112004
Number of pages17
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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