Recent results from an ITPA joint experiment to study the onset, growth, and decay of relativistic electrons (REs) indicate that loss mechanisms other than collisional damping may play a dominant role in the dynamics of the RE population, even during the quiescent Ip flattop. Understanding the physics of RE growth and mitigation is motivated by the theoretical prediction that disruptions of full-current (15 MA) ITER discharges could generate up to 10 MA of REs with 10–20 MeV energies. The ITPA MHD group is conducting a joint experiment to measure the RE detection threshold conditions on a number of tokamaks under quasi-steady-state conditions in which Vloop, ne, and REs can be well-diagnosed and compared to collisional theory. Data from DIII-D, C-Mod, FTU, KSTAR, and TEXTOR have been obtained so far, and the consensus to date is that the threshold E-field is significantly higher than predicted by relativistic collisional theory, or conversely, the density required to damp REs is significantly less than predicted, which could have significant implications for RE mitigation on ITER.

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