Stability of MHD plasmas ionized by nuclear fragments

Yoichi Watanabe, Jacob Appelbaum, Isaac Maya

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Fission fragments (or fast ions) produced in-situ by nuclear reactions enhance the electrical conductivity of the gas flowing in a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generator through non-equilibrium ionization. Since this ionization process does not depend on thermal electron impact, the ionization instability present with a seeded gas in a conventional MHD generator is expected to be suppressed with a fissioning gas. We studied the stability of helium-3 and potassium mixtures as a function of neutron flux, thus, varying the impact of non-equilibrium ionization. We found that the critical Hall parameter increases as the neutron flux intensity increases. In other words, for any given value of the Hall Parameter one can suppress the ionization instability by applying a neutron flux of sufficiently high intensity. The stabilization occurs when the nuclear induced ionization dominates the thermal electron impact ionization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
EventProceedings of the 26th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference - IECEC '91 - Boston, MA, USA
Duration: Aug 4 1991Aug 9 1991


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