Dielectric Barrier Discharge Device Thrust Performance at Low Pressures
Plasma aerodynamic control is a promising development in plasma physics and aerodynamics that may hold the key to improving vehicle efficiency and achieving robust and energy efficient control of aircraft. More specifically, implementation of a plasma-based control system could improve craft stability and performance at high altitudes. Plasma actuators are advantageous due to the capability for high-frequency control, their robust design, and the ability to be flush-mounted to a surface. Dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) devices are a form of plasma actuator that have been shown to be effective at controlling and affecting near-surface airflows. DBD devices have been evaluated and modeled in a variety of configurations and ambient conditions. This paper details the performance of our dielectric barrier discharge device architecture at a variety of sub-atmospheric pressures, given a fixed voltage differential. We show that for this device configuration, DBD actuator thrust peaks at a sub-atmospheric pressure. However, this peak may be artificial due to the size constraints of our experimental arrangement. Should the trend toward higher DBD device thrust at low pressure continue, it may further validate the use of plasma aerodynamic control systems on high-flying vehicles such as observation aircraft.