You are on page 1of 2

Chemical and technology research for the

development of advanced

plasma systems

Plasma technology at Necsa

What is a plasma?
A plasma contains positive, negative and neutral particles that can conduct electrical currents and emit light. A plasma is neither a solid nor a liquid or a gas and is often referred to as the fourth state of matter. Plasmas are all around us in our everyday lives. The sun, lightning, arc-welding and fluorescent lights are good examples.
Plasma Thermal plasma
DC plasma Transfer arc plasma Non-transfer arc plasma Radio frequency plasma Microwave plasma Laser plasma

Non-thermal plasma
Corona discharge plasma Glow discharge plasma Pulsed plasma

Research resource base

The following plasma capabilities are rooted at Necsa: DC-plasma systems range from 10 kW (laboratory scale) to 450 kW (industrial scale), including different congurations such as linear plasma torches, a V-type torch and three torch plasma systems. Necsa also has radio frequency, microwave, pulsed power and dielectric barrier discharge plasma systems. Dedicated research laboratories include the following: 30 kW plasma laboratory 60 kW plasma laboratory Radio frequency plasma and high temperature laboratory for the conversion of solids, liquids and gases High temperature conversion laboratory High temperature RF laboratory These laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art analytical support equipment such as gas chromatographs (GCs), gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers (FTIRs), laser particle size analysers, optical microscopes, etc. Other advanced analytical capabilities at Necsa include scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Raman spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), X-ray diffraction (XRD), inductively coupled plasmamass and optical emission spectrometry (ICP-MS, ICP-OES), attenuating total reectance (ATR), neutron activation analysis (NAA) and glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GD-OES) for surface analysis.

- Silica (SiO2) - Plasma pigments and opaciers - Fluorspar (CaF2) The production of uorochemicals from which useful products e.g. Teon can be made The production of specialised metals e.g. zirconium metal The production of high temperature materials for nuclear applications e.g. boron carbide (B4C), boron nitride (BN), titanium nitride (TiN), silicon carbide (SiC), silicon nitride (Si3N4), hafnium carbide (HfC) and zirconium carbide (ZrC), etc. The production of nano particles

The properties of plasmas

Once ionised, the plasma consists of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions and a collection of neutral species, which are free to move with respect to one another and thus conduct electricity. Since the negative charge (electrons) and positive charge (ion charge) are equal, the plasma is regarded to be in a quasi-neutral state.

Classication of plasmas
Plasmas can be categorised by using the following diagram.

What we do
Necsas plasma technology group specialises in high temperature and plasma chemistry for the development of advanced plasma systems and applications such as: The treatment and reduction of the volume of waste (including nuclear waste) The recovery of uranium from nuclear waste The conversion of liquid, gaseous and solid waste into useful products The beneciation of local minerals such as: - Zircon (ZrSiO4) - Titania (TiO2)

Cold plasmas, like those in uorescent lights, are found at low electron densities (1015 to 1017 m-3) while hot plasmas, like welding arcs, are found at higher electron densities (1020 to 1025 m-3). In comparison the centre of the sun is at 1032 electrons per m3.

PO Box 582 Pretoria 0001 South Africa

T +27 12 305 3134 F +27 12 305 3197 E

K-9170 []