The initial experiments on the Large Helical Device (LHD) have extended confinement studies on currentless plasmas to a large scale (R = 3.9 m, a = 0.6 m). Heating by NBI of 3 MW produced plasmas with a fusion triple product of 8×1018m-3·keV·s at a magnetic field strength of 1.5 T. An electron temperature of 1.5 keV and an ion temperature of 1.1 keV were achieved simultaneously at a line averaged electron density of 1.5×1019m-3. The maximum stored energy reached 0.22 MJ with neither unexpected confinement deterioration nor visible MHD instabilities, which corresponds to 〈β〉 = 0.7%. Energy confinement times reached a maximum of 0.17 s. A favourable dependence of energy confinement time on density remains in the present power density (approximately 40 kW/m3) and electron density (3×1019m-3) regimes, unlike the L mode in tokamaks. Although power degradation and significant density dependence are similar to the conditions on existing medium sized helical devices, the absolute value is enhanced by up to about 50% from the International Stellarator Scaling 95. Temperatures of both electrons and ions as high as 200 eV were observed at the outermost flux surface, which indicates a qualitative jump in performance compared with that of helical devices to date. Spontaneously generated toroidal currents indicate agreement with the physical picture of neoclassical bootstrap currents. Change of magnetic configuration due to the finite β effect was well described by 3-D MHD equilibrium analysis. A density pump-out phenomenon was observed in hydrogen discharges, which was mitigated in helium discharges with high recycling.
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