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 TVT, 2016, Volume 54, Issue 6, Pages 843–850 (Mi tvt7997)

Plasma Investigations

Lifetime of the thermoemission cathodes of nitrogen plasma generators

A. A. Belevtsev, S. V. Goryachev, E. Kh. Isakaev, V. F. Chinnov

Joint Institute for High Temperatures, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Abstract: Implementation of plasma technologies widely introduced into modern industrial processes requires plasma generators with a high efficiency, great economy, and long lifetime. The last requirement is caused by the necessity of an increase in the lifetime of the most easily worn plasmatron elements, i.e., the electrodes and, primarily, their cathode units. Thermoemission cathodes made of tungsten, the most refractory metal with the melting point $T_m = 3695$ K, are widely exploited in high-current ($I = 300$$1000 A) plasmatrons operating in oxygen-free media (inert gases like nitrogen and hydrogen). By the middle of the 1980s, due to the discovery and application of the phenomenon of the recirculation of electrode material in the cathode zone, erosion of the cooled thermocathode was successfully reduced to G = 10^{-10} g/C. The present study performed by means of a plasmatron with a self-adjusting arc length concerns important problems, such as measurement of the emission current, determination of cathode material erosion, and analysis of means of enhancement of the thermoemission cathode lifetime. Through the investigations performed and the resource tests of the above-mentioned plasmatron type with currents of 300$$500$ A, with nitrogen as the working gas, the requirements for the cathode and the plasmatron operating regimes providing for its low erosion losses, $G \le 10^{-10}$ g/C, at a cathode surface temperature close to its melting point are determined. The experimentally obtained densities of the electron emission currents exceed, by an order of magnitude, those calculated according to the Richardson–Dushman theory with the Schottky correction and with account for the photoemission on the cathode under the action of the resonance emission generated by the positive column of the arc. In that connection, attention is paid to the mechanism of the anomaly electron emission proposed by S.V. Lebedev and caused by occurrence of the Frenkel defect accompanied by crystal lattice deformation, Fermi energy increase, and the respective decrease in the electron-from-metal work function. The obtained estimates of the Frenkel defect concentration in tungsten at the premelting temperatures are a cogent argument in favor of the anomaly electron emission concept.

 Funding Agency Grant Number Russian Foundation for Basic Research 12-08-00758 This work was supported in part by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 12-08-00758.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7868/S0040364416040050

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English version:
High Temperature, 2016, 54:6, 789–795

Bibliographic databases:

UDC: 533.9.07
Accepted:13.10.2015

Citation: A. A. Belevtsev, S. V. Goryachev, E. Kh. Isakaev, V. F. Chinnov, “Lifetime of the thermoemission cathodes of nitrogen plasma generators”, TVT, 54:6 (2016), 843–850; High Temperature, 54:6 (2016), 789–795

Citation in format AMSBIB
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