Power Supply for High Altitude Plasma Ignition (2011)

The maximum altitude of conventional jet engines is limited by flame stability. At high altitudes, conventional igniters cannot couple enough energy to keep the flame lit before the discharge arcs, stopping further energy input. Development of a fast, low-impedance pulser will increase the energy coupled into the discharge and allow operation of engines at higher altitudes, thereby reducing drag, and increasing fuel efficiency. Furthermore, the same pulser technology can enable afterburner operation at higher altitudes than presently achievable.

Under the sponsorship of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, DTI developed a power supply to address high altitude ignition. The design offers fast rise times and the ability to handle large currents (100s of amps) at high rep rates. The prototype is required to deliver 50 mJ at 30 kV to the spark-gap load, with a risetime of less than 20 ns, at a pulse rate of 30 kHz. It is adaptable to a wide range of high voltages, pulse repetition rates, and pulse duration, and fits in a standard 6U, rack-mount box.

A paper describing this effort can be found here.