Topological bifurcations of coherent structures and dimension reduction of plasma convection models

Magnus Dam

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Research in fusion energy seeks to develop a green, safe, and sustainable energy source. Nuclear fusion can be achieved by heating a hydrogen gas to temperatures of millions of kelvin. At fusion temperatures, some or all the electrons leave the atomic nucleus of the hydrogen atom. This results in an overall neutral gaseous state of negatively charged free electrons and positively charged ions. This state of matter is called plasma. To achieve and maintain fusion temperatures, the plasma must avoid direct contact with any solid material. Since the plasma consists of charged particles, it can be confined with an appropriate configuration of strong magnetic fields. Toroidal magnetic confinement devices, such as the tokamak, are the most promising designs for a fusion reactor. A tokamak can operate in two distinct modes of operation. These are the low confinement mode (L-mode) and the high confinement mode (H-mode). H-mode is the preferred operating mode for a fusion reactor. The transition from L-mode to H-mode is called the L–H transition. The confinement properties of a plasma are largely determined by the physics near the edge of the confinement region of the plasma. The edge transport of a magnetically confined plasma is predominantly caused by recurring bursts of coherent plasma structures. These structures are in L-mode called blob filaments (blobs) and in H-mode categorized into edge localized mode (ELM) filaments or inter-ELM filaments. To improve the plasma confinement, it is important to understand the evolution of these structures. We apply a dynamical systems approach to quantitatively describe the time evolution of these structures. Three state variables describe blobs in a plasma convection model. A critical point of a variable defines a feature point where that variable is significant. For a range of Rayleigh and Prandtl numbers, we analyze the bifurcations of the critical points of the three variables with time as the main bifurcation parameter. Plasma simulations can be computationally demanding. We apply a Galerkin method to approximate a plasma convection model with a reduced model. The time evolution of the energies of the pressure profile, the turbulent flow, and the zonal flow capture the dynamic behavior of the convection model. Rayleigh decomposition splits the variables of the model into averaged variables and fluctuation variables. We approximate the fluctuation variables by truncated Fourier series and project the equations onto the Fourier basis functions. This results in a computationally simpler model with the spatial dimension reduced by one. Bifurcation diagrams for the energies show consistency between the bifurcation structures of the full and the reduced model.
Finally, we utilize a data-driven modeling approach called SINDy to identify a reduced model from simulation data of a convection model. The reduced model reveals a predator-prey relationship between the zonal flow energy and the turbulent energy. The analytically derived bifurcation diagram for the reduced model has the same structure as the data-based bifurcation diagram for the full model.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDTU Compute
Number of pages123
Publication statusPublished - 2018
SeriesDTU Compute PHD-2017


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