Predictive SOLPS-ITER simulations to study the role of divertor magnetic geometry in detachment control in the MAST-U Super-X configuration

O. Myatra*, B. Lipschultz, D. Moulton, K. Verhaegh, B. Dudson, S. Orchard, A. Fil, C. Cowley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The SOLPS-ITER code has been utilised to study the movement of the detachment front location from target towards the X-point for MAST-U Super-X plasmas. Two sets of detached steady state solutions are obtained by either varying the deuterium (D 2) fuelling rate or the nitrogen (N) seeding rate to scan the corresponding ‘control’ parameters of outboard midplane density, n u , and the divertor impurity concentration, f I . At seeding and fuelling rates ∼10× and ∼5× that required to start detachment at the divertor target, the detachment front only reaches ∼50% of the poloidal distance to the X-point, l p o l , corresponding to a region of strong parallel gradients in the total magnetic field B. The region of strong total field gradients correlates with where the detachment front location becomes less sensitive to control parameter variation. This result is qualitatively consistent with the predictions of a simple, analytic detachment location sensitivity (DLS) model (Lipschultz et al 2016 Nucl. Fusion 56 056007) which is based in a scaled parallel-to-B space, z. While the DLS model predictions are in agreement with SOLPS-ITER results in terms of where the front location becomes less sensitive to controls (i.e. in the region of strong parallel gradients in B), the DLS model predicts a higher sensitivity in the region of weak parallel gradients in B downstream as compared to the simulation results. Potential sources of differences between the SOLPS-ITER and DLS model predictions were explored: The DLS model does not include energy sinks beyond radiation from a single impurity nor cross-field energy transport. Momentum and particle balance are also not included in the DLS model. The tight opening into the divertor for flux surfaces could lead to variations in plasma-neutral pressure balance as the detachment front reaches that region, exactly how this affects the front movement needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number096018
Number of pages19
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been part-funded by the EPSRC Energy Programme (Grant Number EP/W006839/1). To obtain further information on the data and models underlying this paper please contact This work has also received funding from the University of York and the research by B Lipschultz was funded in part by the Wolfson Foundation and UK Royal Society through a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award as well as by the RCUK Energy Programme (EPSRC Grant Number EP/I501045). This work was in part performed under the auspices of the U.S. DoE by LLNL under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Crown copyright, UKAEA


  • detachment control
  • MAST-U
  • Super-X
  • tokamak divertor

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