MHD Modeling in Complex 3D Geometries: Towards Predictive Simulation of SIHI Current Drive
Hansen, Christopher James
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The HIT-SI experiment studies Steady Inductive Helicity Injection (SIHI) for the purpose of forming and sustaining a spheromak plasma. A spheromak is formed in a nearly axisymmetric flux conserver, with a bow tie cross section, by means of two semi-toroidal injectors. The plasma-facing surfaces of the device, which are made of copper for its low resistivity, are covered in an insulating coating in order to operate in a purely inductive manner. Following formation, the spheromak flux and current are increased during a quiescent period marked by a decrease in the global mode activity. A proposed mechanism, Imposed Dynamo Current Drive (IDCD), is expected to be responsible for this phase of quiescent current drive. Due to the geometric complexity of the experiment, previous numerical modeling efforts have used a simplified geometry that excludes the injector volumes from the simulated domain. The effect of helicity injection is then modeled by boundary conditions on this reduced plasma volume. The work presented here has explored and developed more complete computational models of the HIT-SI device. This work is separated into 3 distinct but complementary areas: 1) Development of a 3D MHD equilibrium code that can incorporate the non-axisymmetric injector fields present in HIT-SI and investigation of equilibria of interest during spheromak sustainment. 2) A 2D axisymmetric MHD equilibrium code that was used to explore reduced order models for mean-field evolution using equations derived from IDCD theory including coupling to 3D equilibria. 3) A 3D time-dependent non-linear MHD code that is capable of modeling the entire plasma volume including dynamics within the injectors. Although HIT-SI was the motivation for, and experiment studied in this research, the tools and methods developed are general — allowing their application to a broad range of magnetic confinement experiments. These tools constitute a significant advance for modeling plasma dynamics in devices with complex boundary geometries.