The target application for this work is to develop a plasma injector, which will be used to increase the aerodynamic efficiency in supersonic (M<~3) aircraft. The plasma injector works by modifying the turbulent viscous skin layer surrounding supersonic vehicles to reduce the mach wave shock front and resulting turbulence. This plasma injector technology can be applied to most supersonic aircraft and re-entry vehicles. Beyond drag reduction and sonic boom mitigation, plasma injection technology could eventually be developed as a steering mechanism during the critical period of re-entry of spacecraft and during hypersonic flight. The technology underlying plasma injectors is very similar to plasma thruster technology, so oportunities exhist for cross-fertilization between the two sub specialties. Finally, the insight gained through detailed extended MHD simulations can be applied to geospace environmental modeling and several astrophysics applications.
This plasma injector technology can be applied to several fields outside of aeronautics and astronautics. In particular, a great deal of this technology was developed for fusion energy science applications, and basic plasma physics research as plasma sources. As such, we expect this development effort to create spin-off technologies, which can be applied to these fields. These plasma injectors could additionally be tooled to function at standard temperatures and pressures and be used in plasma medicine to aid in wound healing and scar reduction or to plasma processing technologies. Finally, the development of technical capabilities in simulating the interaction of plasmas, partially ionized plasmas and neutral gasses can be used by all of the sub-fields mentioned above to develop insight into the behavior of these plasmas without the expense of experimental and laboratory testing.