Modeling of supersonic plasma flows in the VKI minitorch by means of a collisional radiative model

M. Panesi, A. Munafo, O. Chazot

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The analysis of the plasma during the expansion in the nozzle of the VKI Minitorch facility was studied using an electronically specific collisional radiative model for air plasmas. The collisional-radiative model accounts for thermal nonequilibrium between the roto-translational and vibrational energy modes of individual molecular species and deals with electronic states of atoms and molecules as separate species. Therefore, non-Boltzmann distributions of the electronic state populations of atoms and molecules are allowed. Deviations from Boltzmann distributions are expected to occur in a rapidly ionizing regime behind a strong shock wave, depleting the high lying bound electronic states. A separate temperature characterizes the energy contained in the translational mode of the free electrons. Radiative processes are accounted for using escape factors and the influence of the results to the optical thickness of the medium is also discussed. In order to quantify the extent of departure from equilibrium of the electronic state populations, results are compared with those obtained assuming a Boltzmann distribution. Departures of the electronic state distribution function of atoms and molecules from the Maxwell- Boltzmann distribution is found at the outlet of the nozzle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th European Symposium on Aerothermodynamics for Space Vehicles
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event6th European Symposium Aerothermodynamics for Space Vehicles - Versailles, France
Duration: Nov 3 2008Nov 6 2008

Publication series

NameEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Volume659 SP
ISSN (Print)0379-6566


Other6th European Symposium Aerothermodynamics for Space Vehicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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