Plasma Technology

How can you clean water, remove bacteria from wounds or treat skin cancer?

How can you clean water, remove bacteria from wounds or treat skin cancer? How can you inject fertilizing nitrogen compounds into water, remove the smelly substances from the exhaust vent of a McDonald’s kitchen, or nitrogen oxides from a highway tunnel? How can you deposit thin conducting films on plastic? Or burn the leanest mixtures in combustion engines?

A cheap and energy efficient answer to all these problems is or might be pulsed plasma technology, where short high-voltage pulses are applied to air or other gases, preferably operating at atmospheric pressure without expensive vacuum equipment (chip manufacturing does require plasmas under vacuum conditions though).

The key to energy saving in plasma-chemical processing is to accelerate electrons in an electric discharge to high energies while the gas stays essentially cold; the electrons activate chemical reactions in the gas. In fact, the electrons in a pulsed high-voltage discharge in ambient air can gain energies thousand of times higher than in the interior of the sun, while you easily can touch the gas through which they propagate.

Our research partners in this domain represent a wide range of experimental techniques and industrial applications of pulsed plasma technology. The Multiscale Dynamics group develops numerical models of discharge growth on several scales of space, time and energy, and systematic model reduction between the models on different scales. These micro-based and hence quantitative models can predict a growing range of phenomena and replace experiments that are expensive or impossible. Our models contribute to understanding and using pulsed plasma technology together with our experimental partners.

Contact person: Ute Ebert
Research group: Multiscale Dynamics (MD)
Research partners: Applied Physics, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at TU/e.