Will ionized particulates mimic ionized oxygen atoms?

  • Thread starter Kiara
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Say you built a magnetic array, and two long electrodes running perpendicular to the magnetic field, whose electric field is then perpendicular both the electrodes and the array. Most magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters (built as previously described) then send current at an enormous voltage through the electrodes to ionize the air in between to create electrically conductive plasma, which then accelerates down the length of the electrode, creating thrust. My question is, if charged particulates (dust or something of the like) were introduced into the thruster, would they mimic the behavior of the plasma whilst requiring much less voltage?
 

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  • #2
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Eh, the dust is not easily ionized. Oxygen works because molecular speeds are in the hundreds of m/s, while dust is much slower.

Plus it depends on what type of "dust" you are referring to, if it is some ionic compound then good luck ionizing it.
 
  • #3
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so it's due to the dust's large mass that it's difficult to charge and use as a substitute?
 
  • #4
Drakkith
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I believe the amount of thrust is directly related to the speed of the ions and the amount of fuel you are pushing through. Inserting dust into the thruster might increase the "amount" of fuel you are pushing through, but using less voltage would simply lessen the power of the thrust.
 
  • #5
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there is a discipline of plasma physics that deals specifically with dusty plasmas. These are plasmas which contain charged particulates, similar to what you described. The dynamics of dusty plasmas is often very different from regular plasmas. Many dust particles will charge negative (perhaps due to triboelectric charging) so you in in essence end up with plasma containing really heavy "electrons".
 

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