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The maximum normalized beta achieved in long-pulse tokamak discharges at low collisionality falls significantly below both that observed in short pulse discharges and that predicted by the ideal MHD theory. Recent long-pulse experiments, in particular those simulating the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) [M. Rosenbluth et al., Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion (International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1995), Vol. 2, p. 517] scenarios with low collisionality νe*, are often limited by low-m/n nonideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) modes. The effect of saturated MHD modes is a reduction of the confinement time by 10%–20%, depending on the island size and location, and can lead to a disruption. Recent theories on neoclassical destabilization of tearing modes, including the effects of a perturbed helical bootstrap current, are successful in explaining the qualitative behavior of the resistive modes and recent results are consistent with the size of the saturated islands. Also, a strong correlation is observed between the onset of these low-m/n modes with sawteeth, edge localized modes (ELM), or fishbone events, consistent with the seed island required by the theory. We will focus on a quantitative comparison between both the conventional resistive and neoclassical theories, and the experimental results of several machines, which have all observed these low-m/n nonideal modes. This enables us to single out the key issues in projecting the long-pulse beta limits of ITER-size tokamaks and also to discuss possible plasma control methods that can increase the soft β limit, decrease the seed perturbations, and/or diminish the effects on confinement. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.
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