Modelling the multifaceted physics of metallic dust and droplets in fusion plasmas

Abstract: Plasma-material interaction constitutes one of the major scientific and technological issues affecting the development of thermonuclear fusion power plants. In particular, the release of metallic dust and droplets from plasmafacing components is a crucial aspect of reactor operation. By penetrating into the burning plasma, these micrometric particles act as a source of impurities which tend to radiate away the plasma energy, cooling it down below the threshold temperatures for sustainable fusion reactions. By accumulating in the reactor chamber, dust particles tend to retain fuel elements, lowering the reactor efficiency and increasing its radioactivity content. Dust accumulation also increases the risk of explosive hydrogen production upon accidental air or water ingress in the vacuum chamber. Numerical dust transport codes provide the essential framework to guide theoretical and experimental dust studies by simulating the intricate couplings between the many physical processes driving dust dynamics in fusion plasmas. This thesis reports on the development and validation of the MIGRAINe code, which specifically targets plasma-surface interaction processes and the physics of dust particles impinging on plasma-facing components to address long-term dust migration and accumulation in fusion devices.