A large improvement in efficiency of current drive in a tokamak can be obtained using neutral beam injection to drive the current in a plasma which has low density and high resistivity. The current established under such conditions acts as the primary of a transformer to drive current in an ignited high-density plasma. In the context of a model of plasma confinement and fusion reactor costs, it is shown that such transformer action has substantial advantages over strict steady-state current drive. It is also shown that cycling plasma density and fusion power is essential for effective operation of an internal transformer cycle. Fusion power loading must be periodically reduced for intervals whose duration is comparable to the maximum of the particle confinement and thermal inertia time scales for plasma fueling and heating. The design of neutron absorption blankets which can tolerate reduced power loading for such short intervals is identified as a critical problem in the design of fusion power reactors.
- current drive
- fusion reactors
- internal transformer
- neutral beams
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering