Investigating the impact of the molecular charge-exchange rate on detached SOLPS-ITER simulations

The EUROfusion MST1 Team

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Plasma-molecular interactions generate molecular ions which react with the plasma and contribute to detachment through molecular activated recombination (MAR), reducing the ion target flux, and molecular activated dissociation (MAD), both of which create excited atoms. Hydrogenic emission from these atoms has been detected experimentally in detached TCV, JET and MAST-U deuterium plasmas. The TCV findings, however, were in disagreement with SOLPS-ITER simulations for deuterium, indicating a molecular ion density ( D 2+ ) that was insufficient to lead to significant hydrogenic emission, which was attributed to underestimates of the molecular charge exchange rate ( D 2 + D + → D 2+ + D ) for deuterium (obtained by rescaling the hydrogen rates by their isotope mass). In this work, we have performed new SOLPS-ITER simulations with the default rate setup and a modified rate setup where ion isotope mass rescaling was disabled. This increased the D 2+ content by > × 100 . By disabling ion isotope mass rescaling: (1) the total ion sinks are more than doubled due to the inclusion of MAR; (2) the additional MAR causes the ion target flux to roll-over during detachment; (3) the total D α emission in the divertor increases during deep detachment by roughly a factor of four; (4) the neutral atom density in the divertor is doubled due to MAD, leading to a 50% increase in neutral pressure; (5) total hydrogenic power loss is increased by up to 60% due to MAD. These differences result in an improved agreement between the experiment and the simulations in terms of spectroscopic measurements, ion source/sink inferences and the occurrence of an ion target flux roll-over. Extrapolating simplified scalings of divertor molecular densities (TCV & MAST-U) to reactor-relevant densities suggests the underestimation of molecular charge exchange could strongly impact divertor physics (neutral atom density, ions sinks) and hydrogen emission (which has implications for detachment control) in deeply detached conditions, warranting further study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number076015
Number of pages15
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Discussions with Detlev Reiter are kindly acknowledged and were very helpful. This work has received support from EPSRC Grants EP/T012250/1 and EP/N023846/1. This work has been carried out within the framework of the EUROfusion Consortium, partially funded by the European Union via the Euratom Research and Training Programme (Grant Agreement No 101052200 — EUROfusion). The Swiss contribution to this work has been funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union, the European Commission or SERI. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission nor SERI can be held responsible for them. This work has been supported in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Crown copyright, UKAEA.


  • detachment
  • Eirene
  • molecules
  • plasma
  • TCV tokamak
  • tokamak divertor

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