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Plasma is Awesome Vol. 2

We here at Dyne Technology think it’s only right we have the first blog of the year celebrating how awesome Plasma is!

As we did with Vol. 1, we’ll be sharing three Plasma applications news stories that we think are awesome and we hope you will too.

Freshening up deep fat frying…

Deep Fat FryingWhen you think of Plasma applications, this one will likely be the furthest from your mind. Bad smells from deep-fat frying foods could soon be eradicated because of experiments funded by ESA on the International Space Station.

When you cook foods, such as French fries, in hot oil malodorous molecules are released that are very hard to disperse. These odours are traditionally destroyed in bulky, expensive commercial cooker hoods to remove the ozone created, a necessity because of the associated health concerns.

Plasma Filter
Plasma Filter. Image credit: Terraplasma

German manufacturer of deep-fat frying equipment, Blümchen, looks to change this by basing their product development on Plasma experiments that have been taking place on the Space Station since 2001.

Cold plasma has proved itself to be an extremely effective bactericidal agent and can even tackle fungi, viruses and spores.

The system generates Plasma by sparking a glowing electrical discharge in the air between a short rod electrode sitting in the middle of a cylindrical electrode. The discharge is initially a narrow line about 1mm thick somewhere between the electrode, by moving it rapidly with a magnetic field, it spreads air to produce a disc of Plasma. The spoiled air, containing the malodour molecules, are then passed through the disc for cleaning.

Discovering even higher energies…

CERNAt the end of last year, the AWAKE experiment at CERN made a break through that was awesome. What is the AWAKE experiment? Simply put, it’s a long-term technology development project, hoping to drag electrons through a plasma, behind a beam of protons, to provide a route to higher energies than the Large Hadron Collider.

You may have heard of the AWAKE project as when the beams first entered the experiment in June 2016, some news outlets went wild, concerned that CERN were opening “portals”. This didn’t turn out to be true as the excitement was actually born out of a thunderstorm around the mountains of central Europe, yes, really, a thunderstorm.

At the end of the Large Hadron Collider running in 2016, a huge step forward was taken. For the first time, the experiment measured that the shape of the proton beam was being modulated (or shaped) by the Plasma. This is a sign that the desired very high gradient electronic fields are being produced within the plasma, the first time this has ever been seen for a proton beam.

This project is one worth keeping your eyes on; if you want to get to grips with the science behind the project, we highly recommend you take a look at our source article from The Guardian.

Plasma breakthrough could allow us to look deeper into space phenomena and nuclear fusion…

Plasma can be a hot or cold, ionised gas and incredibly, it makes up 99.9% of all observable matter in the universe. Within a highly conductive Plasma are magnetic field lines that can join to each other, break apart, and even come together again. This phenomenon called magnetic reconnection, like breaking a molecular bond, releases huge amounts of energy.

The sun
The sun primarily generates energy by nuclear fusion.

During this phenomenon, the magnetic field energy is converted to both kinetic and thermal energy; it usually occurs in thin sheets of Plasma, where an electric current is the most concentrated, and it is responsible for natural occurrences such as solar flares, gamma-ray bursts in outer space and the northern lights.
Interestingly, magnetic reconnection occurs in the observable universe much faster than should be possible theoretically. Researchers have hypothesized that plasmoid instability is playing a part during collisional magnetic reconnection. These instabilities would break apart plasma sheets into plasmoids, which are magnetic bubbles, which could then account for very fast magnetic reconnection.

Using a Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) and an argon based Plasma instead of hydrogen, deuterium, or helium), researchers from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) were able to more easily produce the conditions necessary for collisional reconnection.

So, what does this mean? The expansion on this research allows scientists better access to the interactions that typically only take place in out of space and on the surfaces of stars. An improved understanding of this phenomenon has the potential to allow us to better predict storms in space, explain astrophysical phenomena and even get closer to breakthroughs in nuclear fusion. We recommend taking a look at our source article from Futurism to better understand how this could be the key to unlocking nuclear fusion.

Source Articles

  1. Cold plasma freshens up French fries: https://phys.org/news/2016-11-cold-plasma-freshens-french-fries.html#jCp
  2. A new CERN experiment targets even higher energies (eventually): https://www.theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics/2017/jan/08/a-new-cern-experiment-targets-even-higher-energies-eventually
  3. New Breakthrough Could Be the Key To Nuclear Fusion: https://futurism.com/new-breakthrough-could-be-the-key-to-nuclear-fusion/