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Computational Model for Electrode Erosion by High-Pressure Moving Arcs

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9550-14-C-0026
Agency Tracking Number: F11B-T25-0086
Amount: $749,964.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF11-BT25
Solicitation Number: 2011.0
Solicitation Year: 2011
Award Year: 2014
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2014-02-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2016-02-14
Small Business Information
215 Wynn Dr., 5th Floor
Huntsville, AL 35805
United States
DUNS: 000000000
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Vladimir Kolobov
 Technical Fellow
 (256) 726-4800
Business Contact
 Deb Phipps
Title: Contracts Manager
Phone: (256) 726-4884
Research Institution
 Drexel University
 Ryan Chaiken
3201 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

 (215) 895-6474
 Nonprofit College or University

ABSTRACT: The goal of this project is to develop theoretical models for electrode erosion in high-pressure arcs and incorporate them into computational tools for simulations of arc heaters. The complexity of the electrode material removal process is associated with the multi-phase nature of the arc-electrode interactions, melting and vaporization of the electrodes near the arc foot. Available models can predict material removal rates within an order of magnitude, but have many adjustable parameters that are poorly understood. Our goal is to advance the electrode erosion models, and combine them with state-of-the-art codes for simulation of arc discharges. A comprehensive computational tool will be developed to simulate the arc motion by external magnetic fields, gas-plasma interactions in the arc attachment region, the formation of cathode and anode spots, the melting and vaporization of the electrode surface, material removal due to vaporization, surface shear, chemical reactions, and magnetic forces. During Phase I, we have evaluated erosion models and existing codes, and designed a new computational tool with Adaptive Mesh Refinement and multi-phase capabilities for simulations of electrode erosion by high-pressure magnetically moving arcs. In Phase II, the new computational tool will be fully developed and validated versus experiments. BENEFIT: Arc heaters provide the high-temperature airflows needed for simulating extreme conditions for space vehicles and hypersonic weapon systems. The U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and NASA use ground-test facilities to develop thermal protection systems for hypersonic flight vehicles and launch vehicles. This tool will help to improve the arc heaters in these specialized facilities by predicting optimal operating conditions with minimal electrode erosion. For industrial applications of arc heaters, electric switches, circuit breakers, etc. this project will help better understand the electrode erosion process and increase the usable lifetime of the devices. For other technologies such as gas-metal cutting and welding, this project can offer improved capabilities for simulating multi-phase processes involving gas, plasma, solid and liquid interactions in a space of a few millimeters, which have proven difficult to measure and control experimentally.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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