Using the spontaneous transition condition under marginal hot cathode biasing, the ion viscosity at the L-H transition was estimated in various magnetic configurations in the Tohoku University Heliac. The critical viscosity, which is the viscosity at the transition point, was experimentally estimated from the J × B driving force. The critical viscosities in different magnetic configurations were in agreement with the neoclassical predictions within a factor of 2 and were compared with the viscosities obtained in the externally forced biasing experiments. Although the transition points were spread over a wide range, poloidal Mach numbers at the transition point were concentrated near the viscosity maxima predicted by the theory.
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