Three-dimensional unsteady model of arc heater plasma flow

Jeremie B.E. Meurisse, Alejandro Alvarez Laguna, Marco Panesi, Nagi N. Mansour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arc jets are unique facilities used to evaluate the performance of Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) for hypersonic vehicles. They produce high pressure and high enthalpy plasma flow to simulate the extreme heat encountered during atmospheric entry. The constricted arc heater part of an arc jet increases the test gas temperature by Joule heating. This study details the development of the three-dimensional unsteady plasma flow analysis tool, ARCHeS (ARC Heater Simulator). Coupled Navier-Stokes, radiative transfer and Maxwell equations yield current density, magnetism, radiation, and flow field solutions. The present work constitutes the first demonstration of an unsteady three-dimensional plasma flow simulation of high pressure and high enthalpy arc heater that captures kink instabilities of the electric arc. It is found that the arc attachment is mainly driven by upstream arc instabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107465
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Arc heater
  • Arc instability
  • Arc jet
  • Joule heating
  • Plasma
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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