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Jason Barry and David Huxley-Cohen

"Optimal Control of Plasma Fluctuations in HELCAT Device"

Department: Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
Advisor: Professor Eugenio Schuster

We investigated active control of plasma fluctuations by manipulation of flow profiles in a magnetized laboratory plasma device (HELCAT). The HELCAT (HELicon-CAThode) is a linear plasma device, which uses concentric ring electrodes at one end to modify the flow profiles by ExB actuation. These ring electrodes produce a radial electric field, which creates a torque on the plasma and allows us to limit the turbulent particle and heat transport. A model-based feedback controller is proposed in this work to achieve this goal even in the presence of external disturbances, model uncertainties and perturbed initial conditions. Numerical simulations based on optimal control methods are implemented to regulate the radial velocity profile around a prescribed desired profile. The proposed control solution has the potential of being used as a systematic tool to elucidate the physics of laboratory plasmas.

About Jason and David:
Jason Barry is a senior pursuing Mechanical Engineering degree with a minor in Energy Engineering. He worked with Professor Schuster during the summer of 2012 conducting research on the area of Nuclear Fusion. Additionally, he took Professor Schuster’s class focusing on the design of fusion reactors. He is a member of Lehigh’s ASME branch (American Society of Mechanical Engineers). His extracurricular activities include membership in the ASME and SAE Baja clubs. After graduation, Jason will look to work in the field of renewable energy resources and technology.

David Huxley-Cohen is a senior pursuing a B.S. Integrated Degree in Engineering and Arts & Sciences (IDEAS) Program with concentrations in Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Sustainability. He has been working with Professor Schuster for the past year on his Nuclear Fusion Plasma Controls research project. He had previously done research with Professor Jellerson on Biosand Filtration. David has also been involved in a variety of organizations on campus, such as the Gryphon Society, Jazz Band, Leadership Lehigh, and Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity. He is staying at Lehigh for a 5th year as a Presidential Scholar, where he will receive his Engineering Masters from the Energy Systems Engineering program. After Lehigh David looks to pursue his passion of helping to reduce society’s environmental impact by getting into the field of renew able energy technology.