Control and propulsion of an atmospheric pressure plasma ring

Leon M. Shpanin, G. R. Jones, J. W. Spencer, B. E. Djakov

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A new approach for the electromagnetic control and propulsion of a current carrying electric arc plasma ring is described. The essence of the approach is to form and manipulate the arc plasma outside rather than inside an electromagnetic field (B-field) producing coil so that pulsed plasma thrusts can be produced in a choice of different directions. The interaction of the electric arc, formed in atmospheric pressure air, with such B-field has been investigated. It has been shown that a stable azimuthal plasma ring can rapidly be produced by the simple process of separating two annular contacts. Pulsed plasma propulsion is obtained when the arc plasma, and B-field sustaining current is automatically reduced to zero, whereby the constraining electromagnetic forces are removed and, as a consequence, the resulting plasma ring radially expands outwards. Several different measurement techniques have been deployed for investigating the behavior of the plasma ring. These include electrical probing, B-field probing, and high-speed plus video photography. Experimental results are shown to be in good agreement with theoretical estimates based upon a Sedov's self-similar model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2795-2800
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


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Shpanin, L. M., Jones, G. R., Spencer, J. W., & Djakov, B. E. (2008). Control and propulsion of an atmospheric pressure plasma ring. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, 36(5), 2795-2800.