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Plasma engine

  1. Sep 11, 2010 #1
    I wanted to ask about plasma propulsion engine. Plasma can be made by using radio waves. How this part of device looks like?(I know something, like an antenna, is used) I searched the net, but I didn't find anything.
    Thanks in advance.
    P.S Please explain as simple as you can
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2010 #2


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  4. Sep 11, 2010 #3
    And microwaves can make ions from any gas? Can it? Because I read that usually xenon is used
  5. Sep 11, 2010 #4


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  6. Sep 11, 2010 #5
    Xenon or other high gram-molecular-weight (GMW) gas is used because a hi-GMW gas has the highest momentum transfer (specific thrust) per unit input energy; p = (2ME)½.

    Bob S
  7. Sep 12, 2010 #6
    And then again... Can you tell me how gas can be ionized, that is converted to plasma?
  8. Sep 12, 2010 #7
    For devices like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicon_Double_Layer_Thruster" [Broken]

    Ionization is accomplished with a helical antenna. The antenna launches plasma waves that accelerate electrons that collide with atoms. The collision with the atom sometimes transfers enough energy to an electron in the atom that it's ejected creating an ion and an electron. If this process happens enough the gift of plasma is formed.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Sep 12, 2010 #8


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    I would like to ask if you know of any research that has looked at spinning the argon gas into a very high velocity vortex, somewhere in the system ? I see possibilities of heat recovery and separation of gas mass, using centrifuge effects and possible power generation from wasted heat.
    This is a question based on thoughts of plasma arch in the center of a vortex, that has been in my mind for some time now.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Sep 12, 2010 #9
    I've seen plenty of research on vortex stabilized inductively coupled discharges. My advisor, back when I was in school, did a dissertation on http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0729782" using bluff body stabilization. I think the efforts were to make a more conventional type of rocket replacing combustion with an ICP discharge.

    Space plasma propulsion using magnetic nozzles requires a much lower collision frequency to function than you would have with a vortex flow. A vortex flow stabilized plasma discharge might have more applications in something like a scram jet but your still left with the problem of powering it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
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