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Air Plasma

  1. Jan 25, 2014 #1
    Hi, I'm curious, how would I create an electric field to a noble gas in a sealed vacuum and how much energy is needed to create plasma from air?
    You see, I'm building something, and theorizing. A plasma theory that uses the simple concept of convection, the hot air will make the craft rise, and then the sudden cooling to descend.
    For one, this is a very early topic I started last year about 3 months ago. I have done alot of research so far, but school got in the way so there isn't as much as I'd like to know. The inspiration from when one day, I thought about Halo 4 and how much I wanted to play it. Then I started reminiscing about it and I remember some kind of purple electricity from the bottom of covenant hovercrafts. Perhaps this theory will be like that. I don't expect much excitement from this, but it would be cool to make a plasma-based hovercraft.

    Also, It would be nice if someone could lead me to a page all about plasma going down to the atom, subatomic particles, and energy itself, and what should I use/do to create the plasma.

    This concept is practically a hot air balloon, but it isn't. It's super heated plasma from the bottom of a hovercraft.

    Thanks in advance for all support!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2014 #2


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    Looks like classical physics, not particle physics - I moved the thread.

    Vacuum or gas?
    Anyway, apply a potential difference to electrodes somewhere?

    Depends on the ionization level and the amount of air that is supposed to become a plasma.

    Which craft?

    If you just want to heat air to use its thermal expansion, making a plasma out of it is a very inefficient way. And I think there is no point in heating so much air, as more air is available everywhere around the craft.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  4. Jan 25, 2014 #3
    Well, if not convection, some other thing. And why do you say "Depends on the ionization level and the amount of air that is supposed to become a plasma." ? ITS AIR from the outside, anywhere outside! How should I know when it is going to be variable with each whiff of air? Can I has Answer Please? Please give a straightforward answer to the MINIMUM amount of energy to turn any air into plasma.

    I saw Veritasium on Youtube so now I know how to make an electric field. ;)
  5. Jan 26, 2014 #4


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    There is no minimum amount, less energy gives less air that becomes a plasma (assuming you can deliver that energy to a small amount of air). In addition, the transition between gas and plasma is not a sharp line, like it would be between liquid and gas. If you put more and more energy into it, more and more atoms get ionized.
  6. Jan 26, 2014 #5


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    One way is to heat up the gas to high temperature (typically thousands of degrees for significantly ionized gas). Google "Saha equation" for details. As mfb stated, the more energy you add, the more ionized atoms you will have. Even at room temperature there is a tiny fraction of the air that is ionized.

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