Dust Particle Charge-up in a Corona Discharge

April 18th, 2018 dust-particle-chargeup-plasma-corona

This example demonstrates charge-up of initially charge-free dust particles as they move through a pin-corona plasma. Two sets of particles move through the corona with different initial velocities. The dust particles are subject to Lorentz forcing in the electric field and their resulting trajectories are compared. The macroscopic particle dynamics is modeled in VizGrain and coupled to a background plasma solution modeled in VizGlow.

The 2D planar pin geometry and mesh is shown in Figure 1. The pin is 5mm long with a base diameter of 3mm. The pin is modeled with a sharp tip. The geometry is discretized using a fully structured mesh with 79,050 cells. A voltage of -10kV is applied to the pin with a background gas of pure argon at 1atm.

Two sets of dust particles enter from the left boundary with an initial velocity in the horizontal direction. The dust particles have a mass of 1.4×1017 kg and a diameter of 300nm. The first set of particles has an initial, horizontal velocity of 150m/s. The second set of particles has an initial velocity of 50m/s. All particles are initially uncharged.


First, the background plasma and electric field is solved in VizGlow. Results from the plasma solution is shown in Figure 2.



The maximum electric potential is observed in the steady state solution around the pin geometry. The negative corona discharge is formed from the electron avalanche extending tip of the pin into the volume. The electron number density reaches a maximum of 3.6×1020 very close to pin tip. The electron temperature reaches a maximum of 33,500K or approximately 3eV.

Next, VizGrain is used to solve the dust particle motions over the background plasma. This uses a one-way coupling of the electrostatic potential and Lorentz forces with the dust particle dynamics. The resulting VizGrain solution is shown in the animation in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Dust particle trajectories through pin-corona discharge. First column of particles has an initial velocity of 150m/s. Second column of particles has an initial velocity of 50m/s.


Both sets of particles charge-up as they move to the right. Charge-up is caused by the flux of ions and electrons on the particle surface. The flux is a function of dust particle size, as well as the ion and electron number densities, masses, and temperatures. This flux is also dependent on the floating potential of particles, obtained from the VizGlow plasma solution.

The first set of particles, with an initial velocity of 150m/m, has sufficient momentum to pass through the corona as they charge-up. The second set of particles, with an initial velocity of 50m/s, does not have sufficient momentum to pass through the corona and are deflected as they charge-up in the corona.

This demonstrates the effects of dust particle charge-up and Lorentz forcing using a one-way coupled solution between VizGlow and VizGrain. VizGlow and VizGrain are both modules within the OverViz Simulation Suite. OverViz is an industrial multiphysics framework for performing hybrid plasma, fluid flow, electromagnetic, particle simulations. For more information, please contact us at