APPH E4990: Special Topics – Building a Star on Earth (ITER)

Spring 2011

12:00 - 1:50 PM Thursday, Room 214 S. W. Mudd Building

Prof. Michael Mauel

General Background Grading Syllubus Links


Welcome to the APPH E900 Sepcial Topics class information site.

APPH E4990y Special Topics 3 pts. Prerequisite: Background in plasma physics and electromechanics.

As a seminar course, we will review, discuss, and reconstruct the major papers that define and describe what may someday be the wortld's largest fusion energy experiment: ITER.

ITER is both a device now under construction in Caderache, France, and also a physics and engineering project spanning the past 20 years. Several thousand scientific papers have been written describing the physics, operation, design, engineering, technology, and impact of the ITER device. By studying ITER, we will better understand the most studied, most numerous, and most successful controlled thermonuclear fusion device: the tokamak.


ITER CrossSection

Important papers:


Each student will be required to complete an independent research project on one aspect of the ITER Project. Each topic must be approved.

Your project will be presented to the semimar in both written and presentation form.

Course project schedule:

  1. One page project proposal, due February 17
  2. Midterm progress presentation (10 minutes), due March 10
  3. Schedule your project presentation, where students will submit "chits", comments, and questions,first-come-first-serve
  4. Submission of your final written project report by the end of the semester.

There will be no exams


The lecture plan will be developed during the semester based upon student interests.

Lecture Dates Topics
Jan 20

Class cancelled (I will be in Washington, DC on business.)

Please read Marshall Rosenbluth's review of ITER Physics: "Physics fundamentals for ITER" PFCF, 41, A99 (1999)

Jan 25

Tuesday this week only. (I will be in PPPL at NSTX PAC for normal Thursday class.)

Lecture 1: Introduction to ITER and "Overview and the Status of the ITER Project," by Norbert Holtkamp (Feb 2010).

Read: Shimomura et al. "ITER overview," Nuclear Fusion 39 1291(1999)

Feb 3

Plasma operational limits, magnetic field strength, and size

"How to design a tokamak fusion reactor"

Read: Hender et al. Chapter 3: MHD stability, operational limits and disruptions. Nucl Fusion (2007) vol. 47 (6) pp. S128-S202

Lecture 2: How to design a burning plasma tokamak?

Feb 10 

Plasma confinement scaling

Lecture-3: "What is the H-mode, and How does it work?"


Feb 17

1st Draft Term-Project Proposals Due

A brief introduction to tokamak engineering and technology

Lecture-4: "How to build the world's most powerful superconducting magnet"


  • Huguet. Key engineering features of the ITER-FEAT magnet system and implications for the R&D programme. Nuclear fusion (2001) vol. 41 (10) pp. 1503
  • Okuno et al. Key features of the ITER-FEAT magnet system. Fusion Eng Des (2001) vol. 58-9 pp. 153-157

Feb 24

Introduction to:

  • Tokamak discharge evolution
  • Tokamak plasma equilibrium control
  • Tokamak MHD instability control

Lecture-5: "Tokamak Discharge Control"


  • Gribov et al. Chapter 8: Plasma operation and control. Nucl Fusion (2007) vol. 47 (6) pp. S385-S403
  • Jardin et al. Dynamic modeling of transport and positional control of tokamaks. Journal of Computational Physics (1986) vol. 66 (2) pp. 481-507
  • Kessel et al. Development of ITER 15 MA ELMy H-mode inductive scenario. Nuclear Fusion (2009) vol. 49 pp. 085034
Mar 3

ITER Diagnostics

Read: Donné et al. Chapter 7: Diagnostics. Nucl Fusion (2007) vol. 47 (6) pp. S337-S384

Mar 10

Project 10 minute summaries

  1. "ITER Operation without Tritium", M. Mauel
  2. "Resistive Wall Mode Observation and Control", J. Levesque
  3. "Multiple-scale Turbulences Interaction", Bingqian Li
  4. "Physics and Design of the Divertor for ITER", C. Stoafer
  5. "Advanced Tokamaks and ITER", M. Roberts
  6. "Disruption in ITER: Major Catastrophe or Minor Annoyance?", S. Angelini
  7. "Vertical Stability Diagonsis and Control in ITER", P. Hughes
  8. "Heating and Current Drive in ITER", P. Traverso
  9. "Investigation of Methods and Uses of Auxiliary Heating in ITER-FEAT", P. Byrne
  10. "Plasma Reconstruction," Q. Peng
  11. "Battling ELM's in ITER", B. DeBono
  12. "Energetic Particle Physics in ITER Plasmas", D. Shiraki
  13. "Toroidal Drift Instabilities", E. Tokluoglu
Mar 17

Spring Break

Mar 24

Lecture 7: ITER Physics and Technical Issues from the 2007 Design Review

Read: Hawryluk. Principal physics developments evaluated in the ITER design review. Nucl. Fusion (2009) vol. 49 (065012) pp. 065012


Mar 31

One-on-one discussions about term projects

Issue Cards for student participation during report presenations.

Apr 7
Apr 14
Apr 21
Apr 28
May 3
May 5

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Professor Michael E. Mauel
Department of Applied Physics
Columbia University

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