Modeling and Analysis of a Dual-Channel Plasma Torch in Pulsed Mode Operation for Industrial, Space, and Launch Applications

Alexander E. Zielinski, Harry D. Fair, A. Leigh Winfrey, Mohamed A. Bourham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Dual-channel thermal plasma torch can operate with air, argon, or combustible gases to produce high-temperature plasma flow. This plasma torch can be used in various important applications such as metal industry recycling, surface coating and hardening, space operations using controlled thrust, and macroparticle acceleration based on the electrothermal nature of thermal torches and electrical-to-thermal energy conversion. Power for this torch is supplied from the electric mains and the voltage is stepped up to 6 kV. However, the torch can also operate on dc or pulsed mode. The electrical operation is characterized by the voltampere relationship to determine the power rating of the torch as well as diagnosing the dynamic behavior of the plasma. Experiments on the torch using air and argon have shown plasma temperatures in the range of 0.4-0.6 eV with plasma number density in the range of 1024-1025/m3, indicating a dense plasma regime with the plasma tends to be weakly nonideal. Plasma kinetic temperature and electron number density were obtained from optical emission spectroscopy using the relative line method as the plasma is near local thermodynamic equilibrium condition. Plasma temperature has its peak for low flow rates and decreases for increased flow rates. The torch modeling was conducted using an electrothermal plasma code to simulate and predict the parameters for pulsed mode operation. Simulation was conducted on a single channel as the dual torch is symmetric. Code results for extended pulselength show a plasma temperature between 0.6 and 0.8 eV for nitrogen, oxygen, and helium; which are in good correlation with plasma temperatures obtained from optical emission spectra and measured plasma resistivity. A set of computational experiments using short pulses at higher discharge currents has shown temperature in the range of 2.0-2.5 eV for nitrogen and helium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7116580
Pages (from-to)2201-2206
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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