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Plasma is Awesome Vol. 1

Immortal Plasma Rockets? Awesome…

Plasma Rockets
Mars mission with Plasma rockets concept. Credit: NASA

It’s been almost 50 years since mankind landed on the moon and we’ve set our sights on getting the first humans to Mars. The moon trip took three days, a trip to Mars will likely take the most part of a year, but the difference is about more than just time.

Saturn V was the largest rocket ever built, to operate it consumed incredible amounts of fuel in explosive chemical reactions which propelled the Apollo spacecraft into orbit. Once the craft reached orbit, Apollo then ejected the now empty fuel tanks and turned on chemical rockets to get to the moon which used even more fuel. The trip took nearly a million gallons of various fuels just to get us to our nearest extra-terrestrial body, how could we send a settlement to Mars which is more than 100 times further away from the moon?

Plasma Propulsion Engine
Plasma propulsion engine concept. Credit: Wiki

The Saturn-Apollo combination could deliver only the mass equivalent of one railroad boxcar to the moon and it would take dozens of those rockets to build a small house on Mars. There’s no alternative for the “chemical” launch rocket as only powerful chemical explosions provide enough force to overcome Earth’s gravity. However, once in space, a new fuel efficient rocket technology can take over… Plasma.

Plasma rockets transform fuel into a hot “soup” of electrically charged particles, known as Plasma, and ejects it to push the spacecraft. Incredibly, using Plasma rockets in place of traditional chemical rockets can reduce total in-space fuel usage by 90%! This means we could deliver ten times the amount of cargo using the same fuel mass it took to get us to the moon. NASA mission planners are already considering using Plasma rockets to transport cargo to Mars. Now that’s what we call an awesome story!

Cold Plasma to heal non-healing wounds?

Russian scientists have found that treating cells with cold plasma leads to their regeneration and rejuvenation, ideal for patients with non-healing wounds.

Non-healing wounds make it more difficult to provide effective treatment to patients and are therefore a serious problem faced by doctors. These wounds can be caused by damage to blood vessels in the case of diabetes, failure of the immune system resulting from an HIV infection or cancers, or slow cell division in elderly people. Treatment of non-healing wounds by conventional methods is very difficult, and in some cases, impossible.

Plasma Wound HealingHowever, the development of cold Atmospheric Plasma looks set to change this. Cold Atmospheric Plasma refers to partially ionised gas and scientists have worked hard to develop Plasma jets generating temperatures of between thirty to forty degrees Celsius; This low temperature Plasma is ideal for use in biology and medical applications.

The authors previous studies into using Atmospheric Plasma for wound healing prompted the scientists to investigate the possibility that the effect of Plasma Treatment for wound healing could depend on the application pattern (the interval between applications and the total numbers of applications).

Two types of cells were used in this study, Fibroblasts, connective tissue cell and Keratinocytes, epithelial cells, both play of these cells play a central part in wound healing.

Human Keratinocytes
Human Keratinocytes Credit: Wikipedia

The effect of Plasma Treatment on cells was measured, in fibroblast samples, the number of cells increased by 42.6% after one application and by 32% after two applications, as compared to untreated controls. The effect of Plasma was also found to be regenerative, as opposed to harmful. When you think about how many lives this treatment could potentially change, it’s incredible. We highly recommend you take a read of the source article and discover more of the studies findings.

Plasma replaces damaging solvent cleaners

Trichloroethylene
Trichloroethylene Credit: Wiki

Trichloroethylene was once favoured across many industries, including aerospace, for the cleaning of metals, for example vapour degreasing of titanium within the aerospace industry. However, the chemical faced a downhill battle due to the negative health and environmental effects; Eventually Trichloroethylene was placed on Annex 14 of REACH regulations in April 2013, with the latest phase out date being in April 2016.

With Trichloroethene now being removed from UK and Ireland’s manufacturing processes, many engineers have faced a dilemma, what to use now? Of course, there are solvent based metal cleaning products that could potentially replace Trichloroethene but the question looms of whether these solvents will eventually be outlawed due to the damaging environmental impact.

Here, Plasma once again proves its incredible versatility, showing itself as not only a rocket fuel and wound healer, but an excellent method of removing organic contaminants from metals, glass and ceramics.

Plasma Treatment of Metal PartPlasma cleaning is a dry process, removing the need for wet chemicals on the factory floor and simply runs off a standard factory compressed air line and an electrical connection. This dry process has been favoured by many manufacturers due to it being an economical, environmentally friendly and efficient method of removing organic contaminants from a material’s surface.

Question ButtonPlasma is used for the surface cleaning of metal pressings, fabrications and machining’s before a variety of processes, including bonding, sealing, coating and painting. In addition, Plasma Cleaning is suitable for the removal of organic residues and oxidation before soldering or wire bonding on gold silver and copper.

Vacuum Plasma TreatmentPlasma is created when a gas, the choice of which depends upon the material to be cleaned, is subjected to a high-energy discharge: the gas breaks up into electrons, ions, highly reactive free radicals, short wave UV light photons and other excited particles. When these species are excited by a high energy discharge, they effectively scrub the surface to be cleaned. The contaminants are then broken down into gases and extracted.

We hope we’ve encouraged you to love Plasma as much as we do!

Source Articles

Travelling to Mars with immortal Plasma rockets – https://phys.org/news/2016-07-mars-immortal-plasma-rockets.html#jCp
Cold Plasma will heal none healing wounds – https://phys.org/news/2016-09-cold-plasma-non-healing-wounds.html#jCp
Clean decision – what future for trichloroethylene? https://www.machinery.co.uk/machinery-features/trichloroethylene-degreasing-annex-14-reach/57215/
Dyne Technology – https://www.dynetechnology.co.uk