Gyrokinetic theory for particle transport in fusion plasmas

Predicting the dynamics of a thermonuclear plasma during a magnetic confinement experiment is fundamental in order to make nuclear fusion a reliable source of energy. The development of a set of equations describing the plasma evolution on a given time scale is the main requirement to reach this goal. A limited amount of works have studied in a self-consistent way collisional transport and fluctuation induced transport. The motivation of this work stems from the fundamental importance of the self-consistency of the adopted description in order to understand transport processes on the energy confinement (transport) time scale because of the mutual interaction between collisions and turbulence. In turn, this is crucial in order to predict fluxes of particle and energy and, ultimately, the overall plasma evolution. Using flux coordinates and the drift ordering we derive a set of evolutions equations for the number of particles and the energy density on the transport time scale. These equations show the interplay between collisions and fluctuations and, in particular, show that fluctuations may enhance collisional transport while the collisions can damp long lived structures formed by saturated instabilities, i.e zonal structures. Fluctuation induced fluxes are described using gyrokinetic field theory, which makes a comparison with the theory of phase space zonal structures possible, revealing that the fluctuations induced part of the transport equations can be obtained by taking the proper moment of the long length scale limit of the equation governing the evolution of phase space zonal structures. Finally, we show that plasma nonlinear evolution can yield to structures formation that are characterized by mesoscales, intermediate between the typical ones of plasma turbulence and those of the reference plasma equilibrium.


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