Control of plasma profiles in a fusion reactor


Nuclear fusion holds the potential to provide a practically limitless source of energy to power humanity for future generations. The stability and performance of a tokamak-type plasma fusion reactor is largely determined by the spatial distribution of temperature, density, and current ?profiles? in the plasma. These profiles can be controlled by varying the power and location of injected power and electrical current. Up to now, this control has mostly been carried out by manually pre-programming these actuators before a plasma discharge. This leads to poor experimental reproducibility, loss of valuable experimental time, and a great reliance on operators? experience to determine how to adjust the input parameters.

This proposal aims to revolutionise the way that tokamak experiments are run by developing real-time control algorithms for the plasma profiles. With these new solutions, operators will finally be able to pre-program the required parameters of the plasma, and the control system will automatically adjust the actuators as necessary. This will reduce the degree of trial-and-error and help to reliably obtain plasmas with higher fusion power.

These algorithms will be developed based on modern model-based systems & control theory including optimisation, filtering and feedback control. They will rely on the only real-time capable plasma simulation code in the world, that I developed during my PhD studies. My previous work on this topic has been widely praised in the fusion community, which has recognised the potential impact of this new approach.

This research is expected to find wide application in experimental magnetic fusion reactors including the new international ITER tokamak. At the same time, by applying the theory of modern control to this challenging application, new extensions of systems & control theory for distributed flow systems can be expected with applications ranging from chemical processes to industrial plasmas.





Dr. ir. F.A.A Felici

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Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Faculteit Werktuigbouwkunde, Control Systems Technology (CST)


Dr. ir. F.A.A Felici


01/10/2013 tot 13/06/2017