Plasma spray technology is widely employed by industry to apply coatings on different components to protect them from corrosion, wear and high temperature environments. The gases introduced into the DC plasma torch are heated by the arc and a plasma jet exits the torch. Powders are injected into the plasma jet where they are then accelerated, heated, and melted before impacting the substrate, which is placed at some distance from the outlet of plasma spray torch. Plasma arc exhibits strong voltage fluctuations which correspond to the movement of the anode arc root attachment. Understanding the arc movement within the torch and how it affects the flow and temperature fields of the plasma jet exiting the torch is of great importance. Understanding the flow, temperature and electromagnetic fields within the DC plasma torch is extremely challenging and there is a limited number of investigations in the literature. In order to provide unique sets of surface characteristics, e.g., thermal barriers, wear and corrosion resistance, a high quality coating with appropriate combination of powder and base materials must be produced. To produce a high quality coating, powder particles should be uniformly heated and accelerated, and then deposited onto the substrate. In this paper, an unsteady 3-dimensional model of the arc movement within the plasma torch is reported. The proposed model is employed to solve electric potential and magnetic vector potential equations in addition to continuity, momentum and energy equations. The k-ε turbulence model was used to model the turbulence of the flow field inside a non-transferred DC argon plasma torch. The geometry of the torch was that of SG-100 torch (Praxair). TO study the effect of the arc length on the voltage, first a steady-state model was considered for a range of arc lengths and arc-root radii. The results of this model provided the relation between arc length and arc voltage for a set of arc root radii and given argon flow rate. Then, given voltage fluctuation profile, the unsteady, arc root attachment movement was simulated from the estimation which found from steady models. Results show that the effects of velocity and temperature fluctuations at the outlet of the torch (where the particles are injected) are not negligible and such fluctuations exceed 15% of their average values. These will in turn affect the particle heating history and will negatively impact the microstructure of the coating.

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