In the Sustained Spheromak Physics Experiment, SSPX [E. B. Hooper, D. Pearlstein, and D. D. Ryutov, Nucl. Fusion39, 863 (1999)], progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms that generate fields by helicity injection. SSPX injects helicity (linked magnetic flux) from 1 m diameter magnetized coaxial electrodes into a flux-conserving confinement region. Control of magnetic fluctuations (δBB1% on the midplane edge) yields Te profiles peaked at >200eV. Trends indicate a limiting beta (βe4%6%), and so we have been motivated to increase Te by operating with stronger magnetic field. Two new operating modes are observed to increase the magnetic field: (A) Operation with constant current and spontaneous gun voltage fluctuations. In this case, the gun is operated continuously at the threshold for ejection of plasma from the gun: stored magnetic energy of the spheromak increases gradually with δBB2% and large voltage fluctuations (δV1kV), giving a 50% increase in current amplification, ItorIgun. (B) Operation with controlled current pulses. In this case, spheromak magnetic energy increases in a stepwise fashion by pulsing the gun, giving the highest magnetic fields observed for SSPX (0.7T along the geometric axis). By increasing the time between pulses, a quasisteady sustainment is produced (with periodic good confinement), comparing well with resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations. In each case, the processes that transport the helicity into the spheromak are inductive and exhibit a scaling of field with current that exceeds those previously obtained. We use our newly found scaling to suggest how to achieve higher temperatures with a series of pulses.

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