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10 december 2018

Approved FOM programme

Number 120.
Title Active control of magneto-hydrodynamic modes in burning plasmas (CBP)
Executive organisational unit DIFFER
Programme management Prof.dr. A.J.H. Donné
Duration 2010-2014
Cost estimate M€ 4.3


  • To study, both experimentally as well as theoretically, the complicated and collective behaviour of fast alpha particles and their interaction with magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) modes;
  • To actively control and suppress MHD modes under dominant alpha particle heating with newly developed instruments.

Background, relevance and implementation

  new phenomenon in burning plasmas (e.g. ITER) is that the alpha particles, which form a minority but carry a large fraction of the plasma kinetic energy, can collectively drive or suppress magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) modes. In some cases these MHD modes can both have desirable effects on, as well as be detrimental to the plasma. Active control of these modes is therefore, required to balance their desired and detrimental effects. An additional complication in a burning plasma arises from the fact that the external heating power is small compared to the internal heating power of the alpha particles and therefore external heating is of limited use for active control, in contrast to current tokamak operation. The relevance of the programme lies in the fact that active control of MHD modes will help to enhance the perfor­mance of a fusion reactor and to improve its operation, in the first place ITER. 
The programme is largely implemented via 15 PhD projects, of which in the order of 5 are stationed in the groups of the co-applicants at TU/e and CWI. Roughly half of the PhD students focuses on theoretical/modelling projects, but works in very close relation with the other half of the PhD students doing experimental research on the most significant tokamaks in Europe: JET and ASDEX-UG. Most of the experiments on these tokamaks will be done on a campaign basis. Regular progress meeting with the full team (supervisors, postdocs and PhD students) is foreseen to ensure the coherence of the programme and to continuously monitor the progress and – if necessary – to adapt the planning.

In 2011, the programme has been evaluated as excellent by an international panel, as part of the mission evaluation 2005-2010 of the Rijnhuizen Institute.
The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2014. 

Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2013 within this FOM programme here.