National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Dr. Isaiah Blankson

Plasma/MHD Applications in Aerodynamics and Propulsion

June 27, 2007

Dr. Isaiah Blankson introduced two types of plasma, weakly ionized plasma (WINP) and reentry plasmas, and their applications. WINP are artificially generated cold plasmas with temperatures up to 600 Kelvin. Reentry plasmas are fully-ionized in the shock layer of reentry vehicles, with temperatures up to 20,000 Kelvin. The purpose of this research is to affect and control properties of the flow. By depositing energy in front of the nose of an aircraft, one is able to change the flow field.

When a plasma jet deposits energy in front of the nose of a vehicle the mach cone becomes more conical which results in lower drag and as shock intensity decreases sonic booms also decrease. Inlet geometry can be changed using magnetic fields to decelerate hypersonic flows without physically moving any parts. One plasma application includes flow control: aerodynamics (drag and heat transfer reduction), boundary layers, inlet flows, landing gear noise, and flow separation control.

Other applications include hypersonics, energy extraction, plasma assisted ignition and combustion, and protection against RF microwave radiation. Much of this work is fundamental and testing in supersonic wind tunnels is necessary to validate computational analyses.
 

—Jennifer L. Jones