Energy required to keep air in a plasma state

In summary, it is possible to create plasma with a sparking device by using an electric field. The strength of the electric field is necessary to maintain the plasma, but it is not the same as conventional + ions and free electrons.
  • #1
Felix83
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Say that you are continuously creating plasma with some sort of sparking device. How strong of an electrical field is required to keep this air in its ionized state, compared to the field needed to ionize it initially?
 
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  • #2
In creating the plasma in the first place, in the discharge (current of electrons), the electrons strike the atomic electrons knocking them out of the atom, if I may put it so crudely. However, the free electrons will slow by collision and will recombine with an ion.

In order to maintain a plasma, one usually needs to maintain the discharge, or heat the plasma to the point where the collisions maintain a certain level of ionization. One the achieves a balance between ionization and recombination, which is a function of the discharge current or plasma temperature.

As for using a static electric field, the electrons would drift to the positive electrode and ions to the negative electrode. The ions would then neutralize on the negative electrode.

Now theoretically, one could put the air in a chamber, and ionize it in the presence of a static electric field. Presambly one would end up with + and - ions, e.g. O2+ and O2- or N2+ and N2-, however I am not sure about the stability of diatomic ions. Perhaps there is a some monatomic ions as well, and I believe triatomic O3, aka ozone, is possible. However, the presence of + and - ions is not the same as + ions and free electrons, which is the conventional meaning of a plasma.
 
  • #3
As for using a static electric field, the electrons would drift to the positive electrode and ions to the negative electrode. The ions would then neutralize on the negative electrode.

What if the electrodes had a non conductive sheild? You have one set of electrodes to create a spark to ionize the air, and a second set with the insulating coating that don't create current but just create a static electric field. Would the insulated electrodes hold the ions and electrons apart?
 
  • #4
You can make a type of plasma called ball lightning in your own microwave how ever they have not managed to keep it controlled long enough to study it, if you wish to find out how exactly go to google and type in ball lightning, it is well worth doing
 

1. What is plasma and how is it different from gas?

Plasma is a state of matter in which gas particles have been ionized, meaning they have lost or gained electrons. This results in a highly charged and reactive state, unlike gas which consists of neutral particles.

2. How is energy required to keep air in a plasma state?

To keep air in a plasma state, energy must be continuously supplied to the gas particles. This can be achieved through various methods such as heating the gas, applying an electric field, or using powerful lasers.

3. What factors affect the amount of energy required to maintain a plasma state?

The amount of energy required to maintain a plasma state depends on factors such as the gas pressure, temperature, and the type of gas being used. Higher pressures and temperatures typically require more energy to keep the gas in a plasma state.

4. How is the energy required to keep air in a plasma state measured?

The energy required to keep air in a plasma state is typically measured in units of Joules (J) or electron volts (eV). It can also be measured indirectly by observing the temperature or ionization level of the gas.

5. What are some practical applications of plasma and its energy requirements?

Plasma has many practical applications, such as in fluorescent lighting, plasma TVs, and plasma cutting machines. It is also used in various research and industrial processes, such as fusion energy research and semiconductor manufacturing, where understanding and controlling the energy requirements of plasma is crucial.

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