Scientists have used ultrafast X-rays to understand the nature of plasma discharges in water. Their peculiarity is that the speed of some exceeds the speed of sound.
Plasma is an ionized gas, one of the four classical states of aggregation of matter. It contains free electrons and positive and negative ions. In a broader sense, a plasma can be composed of any charged particles (for example, a quark-gluon plasma).
To study plasma discharges in water, scientists used the latest diagnostic tools. The technologies in question are helping to deepen scientific knowledge in the field of plasma physics. It is believed that this will facilitate research in areas such as thermonuclear fusion, pure hydrogen production and hydrocarbon reforming.
For example, by understanding the physics of plasma, scientists can efficiently convert tar and recycled plastics into hydrogen and car fuel without any greenhouse gas emissions. In the future, these studies will lead to improvements in inertial confinement fusion energy sources.
The article, published in the Physical Review Research, talks about the technology of X-ray analysis of the processes of pulsed initiation of plasma discharges in water. David Stacka, who works in the Mike Walker Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, notes that the new technology will help scientists to look differently at the behavior of plasmas in liquids.
Our laboratory works with industry sponsors on patented research on the use of multiphase plasma in carbon-free fuel reforming. By understanding this plasma physics, we can efficiently convert tar and recycled plastics into hydrogen and car fuel without any greenhouse gas emissions. In the future, these studies may lead to improvements in inertial confinement fusion energy sources.
David Stack, study author
Inertial thermonuclear fusion, which generates a plasma with a high temperature and high energy density, is one of the main directions of the project. To better understand the plasma physics involved in this type of fusion, the team is developing short-term, high-speed imaging and diagnostic techniques using a simple and inexpensive plasma discharge system, Stack said.
In addition, they seek to better understand the phenomena that occur when a plasma is discharged in a liquid, causing a rapid release of energy, resulting in low-density microcracks in water that travel more than 20 times faster than sound.