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Kevin Blondino - Internship at ITER

Master Internship at ITER in Caderache, France
Reported by Kevin Blondino. Powered by FuseNet.

I am a Master’s student at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands. For my Master's internship, I worked together with the Science and Operations Department of ITER in Cadarache, France, in order to investigate the overall plasma stability, for ITER scenarios amongs others.

Simulating plasma stability

Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities in a tokamaks, if large enough, can cause disruptions in the fusion plasma, especially during the ramp-up phase. My work primarily consisted of running two sets of computational fusion codes: HELENA and MISHKA. The first code, HELENA, establishes an equilibrium state for the plasma according to a variety of parameters, which in my case mainly was the current density profile. The MISHKA code takes this equilibrium and perturbs it in a handful of ways, checking for stability. This computational sequence has been run for a range of central q-values (also known as the safety factor), and for a range of current density profiles. The data from these runs has subsequently been compiled into a diagram of normalized internal inductance versus q at the edge of the plasma, in which the internal inductance gives an indication of the shape of the current profile. The external kink mode instability manifests itself in these diagrams as a sawtooth-like region on the lower end of these diagrams, in which the tokamak passes near or through as the current is ramped up.

The main goal of my project was to identify what affects the regions of instability in these diagrams, in particular investigating the effect of the plasma geometry. In addition, the stability of the ITER plasma has been characterized during its ramp-up phase in the context of these diagrams. The results verified that the formation of the X-point drastically reduces the external kink mode. Later on, the CASTOR code was used to investigate the effect of resistivity on the diagrams.


A marvelous landscape and great weather

Living in Aix-en-Provence in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azure region of France offered a marvelous rugged landscape and warm weather, both seemingly different than in the Netherlands. Although the language barrier was often a problem, I found the hospitality of the people quite wonderful, and the nightlife quite exciting, especially since I was there during the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament. I lived in a room that a couple rented out in the very center of the city, near the famous Fountain de la Rotonde, which thrust me into French daily life. Many famous places, such as Nice, Cannes, Marseille, and Monaco, are located only a few hours away, and are well worth visiting.

I have FuseNet and my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Ir. Guido Huijsmans, to thank for the opportunity to work on this project and the ability to visit this great place.