Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

First Adviser

Schuster, Eugenio

Other advisers/committee members

Schuster, Eugenio; Perreira, Duke N.; Kothare, Mayuresh V.; Kritz, Arnold


The need for new sources of energy is expected to become a critical problem within the next few decades. Nuclear fusion has sufficient energy density to potentially supply the world population with its increasing energy demands. The tokamak is a magnetic confinement device used to achieve controlled fusion reactions. Experimental fusion technology has now reached a level where tokamaks are able to produce about as much energy as is expended in heating the fusion fuel. The next step towards the realization of a nuclear fusion tokamak power plant is ITER, which will be capable of exploring advanced tokamak (AT) modes, characterized by a high fusion gain and plasma stability. The extreme requirements of the advanced modes motivates researchers to improve the modeling of the plasma response as well as the design of feedback controllers. This dissertation focuses on several magnetic and kinetic control problems, including the plasma current, position and shape control, and data-driven and first-principles-driven modeling and control of plasma current density profile and the normalized plasma pressure ratio βN.The plasma is confined within the vacuum vessel by an external electromagnetic field, produced primarily by toroidal and poloidal field coils. The outermost closed plasma surface or plasma boundary is referred to as the shape of the plasma. A central characteristic of AT plasma regimes is an extreme elongated shape. The equilibrium among the electromagnetic forces acting on an elongated plasma is unstable. Moreover, the tokamak performance is improved if the plasma is located in close proximity to the torus wall, which guarantees an efficient use of available volume. As a consequence, feedback control of the plasma position and shape is necessary. In this dissertation, an H∞-based, multi-input-multi-output (MIMO) controller for the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) is developed, which is used to control the plasma position, shape, and X-point position.Setting up a suitable toroidal current profile is related to both the stability and performance of the plasma. The requirements of ITER motivate the research on plasma current profile control. Currently, physics-based control-oriented modeling techniques of the current profile evolution can be separated into two major classes: data-driven and first-principles-driven. In this dissertation, a two-timescale linear dynamic data-driven model of the rotational transform profile and βN is identified based on experimental data from the DIII-D tokamak. A mixed-sensitivity H∞ controller is developed and tested during DIII-D high-confinement (H-mode) experiments by using the heating and current drive (H&CD) systems to regulate the plasma rotational transform profile and βN around particular target values close to the reference state used for system identification. The preliminary experimental results show good progress towards routine current profile control in DIII-D. As an alternative, a nonlinear dynamic first-principles-driven model is obtained by converting the physics-based model that describes the current profile evolution in H-mode DIII-D discharges into a form suitable for control design. The obtained control-oriented model is validated by comparing the model prediction to experimental data. An H∞ control design problem is formulated to synthesize a stabilizing feedback controller, with the goal of developing a closed-loop controller to drive the current profile in DIII-D to a desirable target evolution. Simulations show that the controller is capable of regulating the system around the target rotational transform profile in the presence of disturbances. When compared to a previously designed data-driven model-based controller, the proposed first-principles-driven model-based controller shows potential for improving the control performance.