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Numerical Simulations of Gas Discharges for Flow Control Applications

posted on 16.10.2019 by Tugba Piskin
In the aerospace industry, gas discharges have gained importance with the exploration of their performance and capabilities for flow control and combustion. Tunable properties of plasma make gas discharges efficient tools for various purposes. Since the scales of plasma and the available technology limit the knowledge gained from experimental studies, computational studies are essential to understand the results of experimental studies. The temporal and spatial scales of plasma also restrict the numerical studies. It is a necessity to use an idealized model, in which enough physics is captured, while the computational costs are acceptable.

In this work, numerical simulations of different low-pressure gas discharges are presented with a detailed analysis of the numerical approach. A one moment model is employed for DC glow discharges and nanosecond-pulse discharges. The cheap-est method regarding the modeling and simulation costs is chosen by checking the requirements of the fundamental processes of gas discharges. The verification of one-moment 1-D glow discharges with constant electron temperature variation is achieved by comparing other computational results.

The one moment model for pulse discharge simulation aims to capture the information from the experimental data for low-pressure argon discharges. Since the constant temperature assumption is crude, the local field approximation is investigated to obtain the data for electron temperature. It was observed that experimental data and computational data do not match because of the stagnant decay of electron number densities and temperatures. At the suggestion of the experimental group, water vapor was added as an impurity to the plasma chemistry. Although there was an improvement with the addition of water vapor, the results were still not in good agreement with experiment.

The applicability of the local field approximation was investigated, and non-local effects were included in the context of an averaged energy equation. A 0-D electron temperature equation was employed with the collision frequencies obtained from the local field approximation. It was observed that the shape of the decay profiles matched with the experimental data. The number densities; however, are less almost an order of magnitude.

As a final step, the two-moment model, one-moment model plus thermal electron energy equation, was solved to involve non-local effects. The two-moment model allows capturing of non-local effects and improves agreement with the experimental data. Overall, it was observed that non-local regions dominate low-pressure pulsed discharges. The local field approximation is not adequate to solve these types of discharges.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jonathan Poggie

Additional Committee Member 2

Sergey O Macheret

Additional Committee Member 3

Alina Alexeenko

Additional Committee Member 4

Alexey Shashurin