Bias field scans are performed at various fill pressures in the FRX‐C [Fusion Technol. 9, 13 (1986)] and FRX‐C/LSM [Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research (IAEA, Vienna, 1989), Vol. II, p. 517] field‐reversed theta pinches. These data show a systematic degradation of the confinement properties of field‐reversed configurations whenever strong axial implosions occur during plasma formation. This limitation prevents access to the desired regime of large‐size and long‐lived field‐reversed configurations. The cause of the confinement degradation must be due to some formation or gross stability problem. Here many studies are reported that attempt to correlate confinement degradation with some formation characteristic. These investigations remain inconclusive and suggest further stability studies presented in a companion paper.

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