Plasma current start-up to 100 kA was achieved successfully in the JT-60U tokamak without the use of the centre solenoid (completely solenoidless tokamak operation). Only poloidal field coils located on the outboard side of the torus were used, in combination with strong ionization by electron cyclotron (EC) power. The presence of a field null was not necessary for plasma current start-up, but the flux conversion efficiency was low in such a case. In a nearly solenoidless start-up, low neutral pressures were favoured, and the optimum location of the EC resonance was slightly to the high field side of the vacuum vessel centre. The required EC power for efficient utilization of flux swing in JT-60U was about 1 MW. A plasma current of 260 kA was maintained for 1 s by NB only, and plasma current ramp-up from 215 to 310 kA was achieved by EC and neutral beam (NB) only (without lower hybrid current drive (LHCD)). However, the ramp-up efficiency was much lower compared with LHCD. Recharging of the centre solenoid was observed with only counter and perpendicular NB injection, indicating bootstrap overdrive. Integration of these elements can lead to the achievement of a completely solenoidless tokamak operation.
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