Investigation of capillary nanosecond discharges in air at moderate pressure: comparison of experiments and 2D numerical modelling
Nanosecond electrical discharges in the form of ionization waves are of interest for rapidly ionizing and exciting complex gas mixtures to initiate chemical reactions. Operating with a small discharge tube diameter can significantly increase the specific energy deposition and so enable optimization of the initiation process. Analysis of the uniformity of energy release in small diameter capillary tubes will aid in this optimization. In this paper, results for the experimentally derived characteristics of nanosecond capillary discharges in air at moderate pressure are presented and compared with results from a two-dimensional model. The quartz capillary tube, having inner and outer diameters of 1.5 and 3.4 mm, is about 80 mm long and filled with synthetic dry air at 27 mbar. The capillary tube with two electrodes at the ends is inserted into a break of the central wire of a long coaxial cable. A metal screen around the tube is connected to the cable ground shield. The discharge is driven by a 19 kV 35 ns voltage pulse applied to the powered electrode. The experimental measurements are conducted primarily by using a calibrated capacitive probe and back current shunts. The numerical modelling focuses on the fast ionization wave (FIW) and the plasma properties in the immediate afterglow after the conductive plasma channel has been established between the two electrodes. The FIW produces a highly focused region of electric field on the tube axis that sustains the ionization wave that eventually bridges the electrode gap. Results from the model predict FIW propagation speed and current rise time that agree with the experiment.