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Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2012 Feb 13;370(1960):740-73. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0344.

Plasma-assisted ignition and deflagration-to-detonation transition.

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Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


Non-equilibrium plasma demonstrates great potential to control ultra-lean, ultra-fast, low-temperature flames and to become an extremely promising technology for a wide range of applications, including aviation gas turbine engines, piston engines, RAMjets, SCRAMjets and detonation initiation for pulsed detonation engines. The analysis of discharge processes shows that the discharge energy can be deposited into the desired internal degrees of freedom of molecules when varying the reduced electric field, E/n, at which the discharge is maintained. The amount of deposited energy is controlled by other discharge and gas parameters, including electric pulse duration, discharge current, gas number density, gas temperature, etc. As a rule, the dominant mechanism of the effect of non-equilibrium plasma on ignition and combustion is associated with the generation of active particles in the discharge plasma. For plasma-assisted ignition and combustion in mixtures containing air, the most promising active species are O atoms and, to a smaller extent, some other neutral atoms and radicals. These active particles are efficiently produced in high-voltage, nanosecond, pulse discharges owing to electron-impact dissociation of molecules and electron-impact excitation of N(2) electronic states, followed by collisional quenching of these states to dissociate the molecules. Mechanisms of deflagration-to-detonation transition (DDT) initiation by non-equilibrium plasma were analysed. For longitudinal discharges with a high power density in a plasma channel, two fast DDT mechanisms have been observed. When initiated by a spark or a transient discharge, the mixture ignited simultaneously over the volume of the discharge channel, producing a shock wave with a Mach number greater than 2 and a flame. A gradient mechanism of DDT similar to that proposed by Zeldovich has been observed experimentally under streamer initiation.

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