In this thesis the first study of the high beta, hot electron interchange (HEI) instability in a laboratory, dipolar confined plasma is presented. The Levitated Dipole Experiment (LDX) is a new research facility that explores the confinement and stability of plasma created within the dipole field produced by a strong superconducting magnet. In initial experiments long-pulse, quasi-steady state microwave discharges lasting more than 10 sec have been produced with equilibria having peak beta values of 20%. Creation of high-pressure, high beta plasma is possible only when intense HEI instabilities are stabilized by sufficiently high background plasma density. LDX plasma exist within one of three regimes characterized by its response to heating and fueling. The observed HEI instability depends on the regime and can take one of three forms: as quasiperiodic bursts during the low density, low beta plasma regime, as local high beta relaxation events in the high beta plasma regime, and as global, intense energy relaxation bursts, both in the high beta and afterglow plasma regimes. Measurements of the HEI instability are made using high-impedance, floating potential probes and fast Mirnov coils. Analysis of these signals reveals the extent of the transport during high beta plasmas. During intense high beta HEI instabilities, fluctuations at the edge significantly exceed the magnitude of the equilibrium field generated by the high beta electrons and energetic electron confinement ends in under 100 μsec. For heated plasmas, one of the consequences of the observed high beta transport is the presence of hysteresis in the neutral gas fueling required to stabilize and maintain the high beta plasma. Finally, a nonlinear, self-consistent numerical simulation of the growth and saturation of the HEI instability has been adapted for LDX and compared to experimental observations.
|Adviser||M. E. Mauel|
|Subjects||Nuclear engineering; Plasma physics; Energy|
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