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Plasma Motorized

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Affordable plasma cutters are becoming a popular step up from an angle grinder for cutting sheet metal in the home workshop, but cutting long straight lines can be laborious and less than accurate. [Workshop From Scratch] was faced with this problem, so he built a motorized magnetic track for his plasma cutter.

Thanks to a pair of repurposed electromagnetic door looks and adjustable base width, the track can be mounted on any piece of magnetic steel. The track itself consists of a pair of linear rods, with the torch mounts sliding along on linear bearings. A lead screw sits between the two linear rods, and is powered by an old cordless drill with the handle cut off. Its trigger switch was replaced by a speed controller and two-way switch for direction control, and a power supply took the place of the battery. The mounting bracket for the plasma torch is adjustable, allowing the edge of the steel to be cut at an angle if required.

Cold Atmospheric Pressure Plasma jets (CAPP jets) are a hot research topic due their potentiality in many biomedical applications1. Indicatively, we refer sterilization2, treatment of tissues3 and liposomes4,5, as well as cells including cancer treatment6. The study of CAPP jets is based on experiments that aim to characterize the plasma by providing information on the ionic species, the properties of the plasma plume, its temperature, etc.7,8,9,10, and on numerical studies that implement various microscopic and macroscopic models in order to simulate CAPP jets11,12,13,14.

One important parameter in the study of CAPP jets is the electric field in the plasma reactor. The geometry of the electrodes and the waveform features of the applied voltage affect the ignition of the plasma and the discharge dynamics, as well as the characteristics of the plasma plume15,16. The electric field in the electrode region is usually examined via numerical simulations, which focus on the dynamics of the plasma. However, there are a few researches that examine the effect of the plasma reactor configuration on the electric field, such as15 and17, wherein the authors study numerically the effect of the dielectric tube radius and of the relative permittivity of the dielectric material on the electric field and the propagation velocity of the discharge front.

A plasma propulsion engine is a type of electric propulsion that generates thrust from a quasi-neutral plasma. This is in contrast with ion thruster engines, which generate thrust through extracting an ion current from the plasma source, which is then accelerated to high velocities using grids/anodes. These exist in many forms (see electric propulsion). However, in the scientific literature, the term "plasma thruster" sometimes encompasses thrusters usually designated as "ion engines".[1]

Plasma thrusters do not typically use high voltage grids or anodes/cathodes to accelerate the charged particles in the plasma, but rather use currents and potentials that are generated internally to accelerate the ions, resulting in a lower exhaust velocity given the lack of high accelerating voltages.

This type of thruster has a number of advantages. The lack of high voltage grids of anodes removes a possible limiting element as a result of grid ion erosion. The plasma exhaust is 'quasi-neutral', which means that positive ions and electrons exist in equal number, which allows simple ion-electron recombination in the exhaust to neutralize the exhaust plume, removing the need for an electron gun (hollow cathode). Such a thruster often generates the source plasma using radio frequency or microwave energy, using an external antenna. This fact, combined with the absence of hollow cathodes (which are sensitive to all but noble gases), allows the possibility of using this thruster on a variety of propellants, from argon to carbon dioxide air mixtures to astronaut urine.[2]

Some plasma engines have seen active flight time and use on missions. In 2011, NASA partnered with Busek to launch the first hall effect thruster aboard the Tacsat-2 satellite. The thruster was the satellite's main propulsion system. The company launched another hall effect thruster that year.[6] In 2020, research on a plasma jet was published by Wuhan University.[7] The thrust estimates published in that work, however, were subsequently shown to be almost nine times theoretically possible levels even if 100% of the input microwave power were converted to thrust. [8]

Plasma engines have a much higher specific impulse (Isp) value than most other types of rocket technology. The VASIMR thruster can be throttled for an impulse greater than 12000 s, and hall thrusters have attained 2000 s. This is a significant improvement over the bipropellant fuels of conventional chemical rockets, which feature specific impulses 450 s.[9] With high impulse, plasma thrusters are capable of reaching relatively high speeds over extended periods of acceleration. Ex-astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz claims the VASIMR thruster could send a payload to Mars in as little as 39 days[10] while reaching a maximum velocity of 34 miles per second (55 km/s).[citation needed]

Possibly the most significant challenge to the viability of plasma thrusters is the energy requirement.[5] The VX-200 engine, for example, requires 200 kW electrical power to produce 5 N of thrust, or 40 kW/N. This power requirement may be met by fission reactors, but the reactor mass (including heat rejection systems) may prove prohibitive.[12][13]

Due to their extremely low thrust, plasma engines are not suitable for launch-to-Earth-orbit. On average, these rockets provide about 2 pounds of thrust maximum.[9] Plasma thrusters are highly efficient in open space, but do nothing to offset the orbit expense of chemical rockets.

Helicon plasma thrusters use low-frequency electromagnetic waves (Helicon waves) that exist inside plasma when exposed to a static magnetic field. An RF antenna that wraps around a gas chamber creates waves and excites the gas, creating plasma. The plasma is expelled at high velocity to produce thrust via acceleration strategies that require various combinations of electric and magnetic fields of ideal topology. They belong to the category of electrodeless thrusters. These thrusters support multiple propellants, making them useful for longer missions. They can be made out of simple materials including a glass soda bottle.[11]

Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters (MPD) use the Lorentz force (a force resulting from the interaction between a magnetic field and an electric current) to generate thrust. The electric charge flowing through the plasma in the presence of a magnetic field causes the plasma to accelerate. The Lorentz force is also crucial to the operation of most pulsed plasma thrusters.

Pulsed inductive thrusters (PIT) also use the Lorentz force to generate thrust, but they do not use electrodes, solving the erosion problem. Ionization and electric currents in the plasma are induced by a rapidly varying magnetic field.

Electrodeless plasma thrusters use the ponderomotive force which acts on any plasma or charged particle when under the influence of a strong electromagnetic energy density gradient to accelerate plasma electrons and ions in the same direction, thereby operating without a neutralizer.

VASIMR, short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, uses radio waves to ionize a propellant into a plasma. A magnetic field then accelerates the plasma out of the engine, generating thrust. A 200-megawatt VASIMR engine could reduce the time to travel from Earth to Jupiter or Saturn from six years to fourteen months, and from Earth to Mars from 6 months to 39 days.[6]

A plasma cannon (also called an electrothermal accelerator) is an experimental projectile weapon, which accelerates a projectile by means of a plasma discharge between electrodes at the rear of the barrel, generating a rapid increase in pressure. It functions similarly to other types of firearms, except that it uses a plasma discharge instead of a chemical propellant (e.g. black powder or nitrocellulose).

To generate the energy required to make a plasma discharge, a high current, high voltage source, and a large capacitor bank are used. Both are attached in series to the electrode system in the cannon's barrel. The capacitor is loaded with as high a voltage as possible. However, militarily useful energy is achieved with as little as several kilojoules. The capacitor is then discharged. The gap between the electrodes ionizes, turning the non-flammable propellant medium into a super heated conductive plasma. Associated volumetric expansion propels the projectile from the barrel at high velocity.

The advantage of a plasma cannon is that it uses electricity as its energy source. The more energy that is supplied the faster the gases expand and the faster the projectile can be accelerated. This makes it possible to "dial-in" any velocity desired and allows the projectile to reach a speed at which it would be possible to "outrun" the burn rate of a conventional propellant.

A clear disadvantage of the plasma cannon is its weight. Even a small plasma cannon with only the firepower of an air gun weighs about 20 kg (without current supply). A foot soldier thus could not carry a plasma cannon powerful enough to be useful. It would have to be mounted in a stationary position or on a vehicle. It would be impossible for a soldier to carry a plasma cannon with the firepower of an actual cannon.

Plasma thrusters are already operational on spacecraft as a means of solar-electric locomotion, using xenon plasma, but such things are no use in the Earth's atmosphere, as accelerated xenon ions lose most of their thrust force to friction against the air. Not to mention, they only make a small amount of thrust in the first place.

The device works by ionizing air to create a low-temperature plasma, which is blown up a tube by an air compressor. Part way up the tube, the plasma is hit with a powerful microwave, which shakes the ions in the plasma about violently, crashing them against other non-ionized atoms and vastly increasing the temperature and pressure of the plasma. This temperature and pressure generates significant thrust up the tube. 59ce067264


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