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I. Thermodynamic and Kinetic Behavior of an Argon Plasma Jet. II. Decomposition of Nitric Oxide between 1300-1750°K in an Argon Plasma


Desai, Satish Vithal (1969) I. Thermodynamic and Kinetic Behavior of an Argon Plasma Jet. II. Decomposition of Nitric Oxide between 1300-1750°K in an Argon Plasma. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/ZDNV-X816.


In the first part of the study, an RF coupled, atmospheric pressure, laminar plasma jet of argon was investigated for thermodynamic equilibrium and some rate processes.

Improved values of transition probabilities for 17 lines of argon I were developed from known values for 7 lines. The effect of inhomogeneity of the source was pointed out.

The temperatures, T, and the electron densities, ne , were determined spectroscopically from the population densities of the higher excited states assuming the Saha-Boltzmann relationship to be valid for these states. The axial velocities, vz, were measured by tracing the paths of particles of boron nitride using a three-dimentional mapping technique. The above quantities varied in the following ranges: 1012 ˂ ne ˂ 1015 particles/cm3, 3500 ˂ T ˂ 11000 °K, and 200 ˂ vz ˂ 1200 cm/sec.

The absence of excitation equilibrium for the lower excitation population including the ground state under certain conditions of T and ne was established and the departure from equilibrium was examined quantitatively. The ground state was shown to be highly underpopulated for the decaying plasma.

Rates of recombination between electrons and ions were obtained by solving the steady-state equation of continuity for electrons. The observed rates were consistent with a dissociative-molecular ion mechanism with a steady-state assumption for the molecular ions.

In the second part of the study, decomposition of NO was studied in the plasma at lower temperatures. The mole fractions of NO denoted by xNO were determined gas-chromatographically and varied between 0.0012 ˂ xNO ˂ 0.0055. The temperatures were measured pyrometrically and varied between 1300 ˂ T ˂ 1750°K. The observed rates of decomposition were orders of magnitude greater than those obtained by the previous workers under purely thermal reaction conditions. The overall activation energy was about 9 kcal/g mol which was considerably lower than the value under thermal conditions. The effect of excess nitrogen was to reduce the rate of decomposition of NO and to increase the order of the reaction with respect to NO from 1.33 to 1.85. The observed rates were consistent with a chain mechanism in which atomic nitrogen and oxygen act as chain carriers. The increased rates of decomposition and the reduced activation energy in the presence of the plasma could be explained on the basis of the observed large amount of atomic nitrogen which was probably formed as the result of reactions between excited atoms and ions of argon and the molecular nitrogen.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Chemical Engineering and Business Economics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemical Engineering
Minor Option:Business Economics and Management
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Corcoran, William Harrison
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:8 May 1969
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:02222016-153354943
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9579
Deposited On:24 Feb 2016 22:25
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 21:14

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