Development of a fluid model for DC arc plasma torches and its integration with downstream models of atmospheric plasma spray particle plumes
Cannamela, Michael J III
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The plasma spray process uses plasma flames to melt micron sized particles of e.g. ceramic and propel the droplets to impinge upon and freeze to the target workpiece, forming a functional coating. Variations in the process arise from many sources, and because sensing of the process is imperfect one is motivated to pursue a modeling approach. This dissertation models the major elements of the process; the torch that produces the plasma flame, the jet of hot plasma issuing from the torch, and the plume of particles conveyed and heated by the jet. The plasma in the torch is modeled by a one-fluid magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) approach and it is found that the MHD equations can accurately predict the power dissipated in the bulk of the plasma, while special treatment is required in regions near the electrodes. Treatment of the cathode region is eased since it can be decoupled from the bulk flow. Treatment of the anode region aims to extract the correct amount of power from the plasma. With MHD in the bulk and these special conditions at the electrode boundaries, the net power into the plasma can be matched with experiment. For one simulation of an SG-100 torch operating at 500A, the measured net power was 7.0kW while the computed net power was 7.1kW. Using outlet information from the torch, the impact of plasma arc oscillations on the free jet and on the in-flight particle states is predicted. The model of the plasma jet is validated against the existing LAVA code, and is able to predict the fraction of entrained air in the jet to within 20% of the experimental value. The variations in particle states due to the arc fluctuations are found to be similar in size to variations due to changes in particle injection velocity, and so cannot be neglected when considering particle state distributions. The end result of this work is to make available a complete chain of models for the plasma spray process, from torch input conditions to in-flight particle state.
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