My background is an integrated masters in Natural Sciences specialising in Physics at the University of York, graduating in 2021. During my degree I was fortunate enough to complete a summer internship working on microwave current drive for STEP which triggered my interest in plasma physics and passion for bringing fusion energy to the National Grid. My masters project was also in plasma physics, looking at how we can model the effect of drifts in the divertor of high power tokamaks.
For my project on the Fusion CDT, I am back to working on microwave current drive, particularly the use of Electron Bernstein Waves during start-up for prototype spherical tokamaks.
In order to confine a plasma inside a tokamak, we need to generate a current through the plasma itself. So far, this has been done through induction using a solenoid down the centre of the device. However, there are disadvantages in this approach if we are designing a spherical tokamak power plant. This includes that there is not very much space in the centre column and that we want to be operating the powerplant for substantial amounts of time. Microwave current drive offers a solution to both of these problems as the gyrotrons can be located a long way away from the device and can be used for long periods of time. Therefore, it would be ideal if we could design a system to drive the plasma current throughout both phases of operation: start-up (when the plasma is being formed) and steady-state (the main phase of operation, when energy is generated). Microwave current drive in steady-state has been studied extensively but start-up is less well understood.
Therefore, my project will aim to find a microwave system for the start-up phase of the plasma. It is a collaboration between the University of York, CCFE and Tokamak Energy and I will be working under the supervision of Roddy Vann, Simon Freethy, Vladimir Shevchenko and Erasmus du Toit.