Normally the energy conversion efficiency of a confined-discharge plasma generator is inversely related to the mean enthalpy of the effluent plasma jet. The present paper describes a technique for increasing both the energy conversion efficiency, defined as the net fraction of the electrical power input transferred to the working fluid, and the mean enthalpy, defined as the net energy transferred to the working fluid per unit mass. A portion of the working fluid is introduced to the discharge through a narrow circumferential slit in the confining duct wall. Heat transfer and fluid dynamic effects associated with this high velocity inflow of cold gas cause the local discharge column to become highly constricted. Concomitant with this local fluid constriction (LFC) is a sharp increase in the local power density, resulting in enhanced energy transfer to the cold gas. Experimental results suggest that for optimum operation the gas injection slit should be located slightly upstream of the axial position where the discharge becomes thermally fully developed.

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