Fast-electron dynamics in the presence of weakly ionized impurities
Paper in proceeding, 2017

Runaway electrons constitute a significant threat to tokamak experiments. To minimize the risk of damage, it is crucial to understand the runaway-electron dynamics, which during runaway mitigation can be heavily influenced by the interaction with partially ionized atoms. Experiments have shown that mitigation via heavy-impurity injection is more effective than would be expected from standard collisional theory, highlighting the need for more accurate kinetic models. To achieve this, partial screening of the nuclei by the bound electrons must be taken into account. In this contribution, we analyze the dynamics of fast electrons in plasmas containing partially ionized impurity atoms. A generalized collision operator is derived from first principles using quantum-mechanical models. We obtain analytical expressions for the deflection and slowing-down frequencies, and show that they are increased by more than an order of magnitude compared to the results obtained with complete screening, already at sub-relativistic electron energies. Moreover, we implement the generalized collision operator in the continuum kinetic equation solver CODE and demonstrate that interaction with partially ionized atoms greatly affects fast-electron dynamics by enhancing the rates of angular deflection and energy loss. This has important implications, not only for the efficacy of mitigation strategies for runaway electrons in tokamak devices, but also for example for energy loss during relativistic breakdown in lightning discharges.


Linnea Hesslow

Chalmers, Physics, Subatomic and Plasma Physics

Ola Embréus

Nuclear Engineering

George Wilkie

Chalmers, Physics, Subatomic and Plasma Physics

Timothy Dubois

Chalmers, Physics, Subatomic and Plasma Physics

Gergely Papp

Max Planck Society

Tünde Fülöp

Nuclear Engineering

44th EPS Conference on Plasma Physics, EPS 2017


44th European Physical Society Conference on Plasma Physics, EPS 2017
Belfast, United Kingdom,

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