This is not a phased-plasma rifle in the 40-watt range. But it might light up your life And give you hope. To carry on.

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19 Responses to How to Make a Plasma Gun

  1. *Yawn*

    The follow-up video, “20 Liters of Gasoline + Firecracker. Experiment” was more entertaining.

    What he was asking about in the follow-up video is Black-Powder coated rice hulls.

    It’s a firework ‘Green Man’ staple bursting charge. Straight BP burns too quickly, so the rice hull matrix moderates the speed of the detonation…

        • That’s a chemical reaction (i.e., oxidation) not plasma. Plasma is the 4th state of matter. And I’ll bet you thought there were only three.

          Plasma is a mass of ionized gas (usually a noble gas or sometimes nitrogen) excited to a higher energy state by losing an electron, thus becoming positively charged. When a free electron recombines, that energy is released in the form of heat. A LOT of heat. Some high energy plasma spray guns produce temperatures upwards 10,000 Kelvins.

          This is a combustion flame gun, not a plasma gun.

        • “Plasma is the 4th state of matter. And Iโ€™ll bet you thought there were only three.”

          No, I am fully aware of the ‘fourth state’. Since Lockheed’s Skunkworks announced about 2 years back their high-beta fusion project, I’ve been getting a *very* basic layman’s understanding of some of the various types of fusion reactors (mag. mirror, stellerators, Tokamak, the big hammer approach of inertial confinement, ect) and science so far after having spent *billions* has discovered a fusion plasma is a real bitch to keep confined.

          A little digging shows you’re *mostly* right on a combustion flame, but apparently a sufficiently hot flame can have *some* plasma in it…

        • Hey Geoff:

          Add “polywell reactors” to your list. There was a great Google Talk on this a few years back…

          Interesting (to me, at least) are side-technologies coming out of some of these efforts. Kind of like the boost solid state electronics got from the space (and ICBM) program(s). Solid state electronics wasn’t the point, but …

          Some of the interesting laser and photonics stuff has roots in “big hammer” inertial confinement. Net, a plasma reflects completely everything below a particular frequency that goes with its temperature. (Because math. I can’t reproduce it. I can just about follow it when it’s in front of me.) Thus, they figured out how to implement the magic, frequency shift upwards of coherent light using interactions with a crystal lattice. (Again, math. This stuff I can’t follow at all.)

          Net, you hit the right crystal with high-power IR, and you can get an emitted UV beam, also coherent, at an angle, and with decent conversion efficiency. Voila, higher plasma temperatures, from the bigger hammer.

        • The math involved with that stuff is *way* above my pay grade. The speculation I’ve been reading suggests the Skunkworks reactor is using a combination of existing technologies. What really piqued my interest was their description that the harder the plasma pushed against the magnetic confinement, the harder it ‘pushed back’ against it, meaning their reactor would be one-tenth the size of other reactors.

          Yes, claims of fusion should be skeptical. Time and time again there have been claims that haven’t panned out. Skunkworks isn’t Pons and Fleischmann with their claim of ‘cold’ fusion as just one example.

          Skunkworks has a history of truly innovative engineering. I don’t think the would risk their formidable reputation unless they truly believed they were on to something. The power level they think they can deliver with a reactor that small (100-megawatts in a box seven feet by 10 feet) makes me wonder if the primary challenge they have now is getting that much heat out of something that compact. Meaning, a materials technology issue.

          A little bit like the problems with building a space elevator. There’s currently no material strong enough to support the weight of the cable and necessary counterweight itself.

          These are neat times to be living in…

          Tom in Oregon – (Groan ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    • You are correct, *some* sub-volumes of combustion flames and *particular surfaces* in pretty much all flames are, in fact, plasmas.

      There’s a tremendous amount of ion-stripping activity going on in there, as partial molecules rattle about. The transition states from “starter” molecules to the “product” are insane, and on reaction timescales “persistent.” It ain’t the glowing stuff inside an “Eat at Joe’s” sigh, but that little reaction arrow in 1st year chemistry hides a huge menagerie.

      Consider: if there wasn’t ion formation in combustion, how would MHD generation do anything at all?

      For a Frank-n-Furter -level mind flip, consider a (semi-)stable flame over a wax candle, as a balanced set of interacting bulk processes. Think of a bunch of buckets with pipes between them.

      So there’s a bulk reservoir that gets melted (via radiant heat), a liquid pool that gets capillary actioned into another spot, evaporation to a gas (radiant heat again), that transports out (and up) via convection, to a surface where conditions are right for the reaction, fed from the other direction by convective mass transport. The plasma’s the surface, where the glow comes from.

      A candle flame isn’t one thing or process, it’s a balanced system of about six.

      I don’t remember whether they made us work this as a problem, back in the day, or it was an urban legend that they were going to, and I had nightmares.

  2. Somewhere in America, some college kid is trying figure out how to light his farts on fire with a contraption like this…

    • As a college kid, I simply want to build one, but can’t because if university policy. At least not until I go home.

  3. 40 years ago I witnessed an demonstration of something called the “plasma pinch effect” in a physics lab at a local university. If you google it, mostly talks about pinching beer cans but it you set it up just right, it will launch an unpinched beer can at a target at significant velocity. Very impressive and i’ve never forgotten it.

  4. Ah, Cool! Star Trek Techonobabble on a Pro2@ site! And the left used to always say gun sites were full of uneducated rednecks…I think I need to get a degree in physics, chemical engineering, nuclear science, and quantum mechanics to read any thing from the TTAG’s …!

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