Analysis of the characteristics of DC nozzle arcs in air and guidance for the search of SF6 replacement gas

J. Liu, Q. Zhang, J. D. Yan*, J. Zhong, M. T.C. Fang

*Corresponding author for this work

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It is shown that the arc model based on laminar flow cannot predict satisfactorily the voltage of an air arc burning in a supersonic nozzle. The Prandtl mixing length model (PML) and a modified k-epsilon turbulence model (MKE) are used to introduce turbulence enhanced momentum and energy transport. Arc voltages predicted by these two turbulence models are in good agreement with experiments at the stagnation pressure (P 0) of 10 bar. The predicted arc voltages by MKE for P 0 = 13 bar and 7 bar are in better agreement with experiments than those predicted by PML. MKE is therefore a preferred turbulence model for an air nozzle arc. There are two peaks in ρC P of air at 4000 K and 7000 K due, respectively, to the dissociation of oxygen and that of nitrogen. These peaks produce corresponding peaks in turbulent thermal conductivity, which results in very broad radial temperature profile and a large arc radius. Thus, turbulence indirectly enhances axial enthalpy transport, which becomes the dominant energy transport process for the overall energy balance of the arc column at high currents. When the current reduces, turbulent thermal conduction gradually becomes dominant. The temperature dependence of ρC P has a decisive influence on the radial temperature profile of a turbulent arc, thus the thermal interruption capability of a gas. Comparison between ρC P for air and SF6 shows that ρC P for SF6 has peaks below 4000 K. This renders a distinctive arc core and a small arc radius for turbulent SF6, thus superior arc quenching capability. It is suggested, for the first time, that ρC P provides guidance for the search of a replacement switching gas for SF6.

Original languageEnglish
Article number435201
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • V-I characteristics
  • air arc behaviour
  • material property C
  • supersonic nozzle
  • turbulence effects

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