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Particle simulation of energetic particle driven Alfvén modes in NBI heated DIII-D experiments


The mutual nonlinear interactions of shear Alfvén modes and alpha particles can enhance their transport in burning plasmas. Theoretical and numerical works have shown that rapid transport of energetic ions can take place because of fast growing Alfvén modes (e.g. energetic particle driven modes, EPMs). This kind of transport has been observed in experiments as well as in numerical simulations. Hybrid MHD-gyrokinetic codes can investigate linear and nonlinear dynamics of energetic particle (EP) driven modes, retaining the mutual interaction between waves and EPs self-consistently. Self-consistent nonlinear wave-particle interactions (both in configuration and velocity space) are crucial for a correct description of the mode dynamics in the case of strongly driven modes; thus, a non-perturbative approach is mandatory. The knowledge of the threshold characterizing the transition from weakly to strongly driven regimes is of primary importance for burning plasma operations (e.g. for ITER), in order to avoid EPM enhanced EP transport regimes. The hybrid MHD-gyrokinetic code (HMGC) has been applied to the interpretation of phenomena observed in present experiments with neutral beam (NB) heating. In reversed-shear beam-heated DIII-D discharges, a large discrepancy between the expected and measured EP radial density profiles has been observed in the presence of large Alfvénic activity. HMGC simulations with EP radial profiles expected from classical NB deposition as input give rise to strong EPM activity, resulting in relaxed EP radial profiles at saturation level close to experimental measurements. The frequency spectra obtained from several simulations with different toroidal mode numbers, as calculated during the saturated phase when the strong EPMs transform in weak reversed-shear Alfvén modes, are quite close to experimental observations both in absolute frequency and in radial localization. In this work, we discuss in particular the effects of nonlinear coupling between different toroidal mode numbers. © 2009 IAEA, Vienna.

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