The study of flow problems of electrically conducting fluids, particularly of ionized gases, is currently receiving considerable interest. Such studies have been made for many years in connection with astrophysical (2, 3) and geophysical (6) problems such as sun spot theory, motion of the interstellar gas, origin of earth magnetism etc. Only recently some engineering problems need the studies of the flow of an electrically conducting fluid. For instance, the following are some of such problems:

(1) Controlled fusion research (1, 9, 12). Fusion reaction occurs only at very high temperature (the ignition temperature is of the order of 300 · 106 °K), at which the gas is in the plasma state. In fusion research, we use magnetic field to heat the cold plasma to the temperature above the ignition temperature and to confine the hot plasma. The stability of the flow of a plasma in a magnetic field is also very important for successful fusion reaction.

(2) Reentry problem of intercontinental ballistic missiles (8). The effects of electrical and magnetic fields on the heat transfer and drag of bodies in ionized gases during reentry are very important.

(3) Plasma jet (7). It is important in new propulsion unit for vehicles traveling in space. Water stabilized plasma jet is a good device to produce very high temperature gas flow and many interesting research may be performed.

(4) Communication. Radio wave in a plasma is important in the communication in space which differs considerably from the electromagnetic wave in a neutral gas or in a vacuum.

(5) Power conversion. The extraction of electrical energy directly from a hot plasma is a very interesting problem. It is so-called “magnetohydrodynamic generator” which has been extensively investigated by many authors (15).


Boltzmann Equation Flow Problem Electromagnetic Force Fundamental Equation Ignition Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Wien 1962

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shih-I Pai
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Applied MathematicsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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