On steady poloidal and toroidal flows in tokamak plasmas

McClements, K. G.; Hole, M. J.
August 2010
Physics of Plasmas;Aug2010, Vol. 17 Issue 8, p082509
Academic Journal
The effects of poloidal and toroidal flows on tokamak plasma equilibria are examined in the magnetohydrodynamic limit. “Transonic” poloidal flows of the order of the sound speed multiplied by the ratio of poloidal magnetic field to total field Bθ/B can cause the (normally elliptic) Grad–Shafranov (GS) equation to become hyperbolic in part of the solution domain. It is pointed out that the range of poloidal flows for which the GS equation is hyperbolic increases with plasma beta and Bθ/B, thereby complicating the problem of determining spherical tokamak plasma equilibria with transonic poloidal flows. It is demonstrated that the calculation of the hyperbolicity criterion can be easily modified when the assumption of isentropic flux surfaces is replaced with the more tokamak-relevant one of isothermal flux surfaces. On the basis of the latter assumption, a simple expression is obtained for the variation of density on a flux surface when poloidal and toroidal flows are simultaneously present. Combined with Thomson scattering measurements of density and temperature, this expression could be used to infer information on poloidal and toroidal flows on the high field side of a tokamak plasma, where direct measurements of flows are not generally possible. It is demonstrated that there are four possible solutions of the Bernoulli relation for the plasma density when the flux surfaces are assumed to be isothermal, corresponding to four distinct poloidal flow regimes. Finally, observations and first principles-based theoretical modeling of poloidal flows in tokamak plasmas are briefly reviewed and it is concluded that there is no clear evidence for the occurrence of supersonic poloidal flows.


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