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Air Plasma Torch
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  • Detail Technical Brochure
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Air Plasma Torch


Quick View Leaflet

A compact hafnium electrode air plasma torch operating in the range of 30 kW is developed and available for transfer of technology to industry. It takes air from the atmosphere and converts that into a controlled well defined long jet of large volume air plasma with a maximum core temperature around 9000K and electro-thermal efficiency of 60% or more. The device produces plasma in the form of an intensely luminous extremely hot radiating atmospheric pressure cylindrical plasma jet controlled in terms of its length, diameter, velocity and power content.


Air Plasma Torch

Air Plasma Torch

Detail Technical Brochure

A thermal plasma jet is a beam of huge concentrated thermal energy at very high temperature consisting of electrons, ions and neutrals. Such plasmas are naturally formed in atmosphere during thunderbolt and observed as a bright flash in the sky. Similar plasma is produced by the offered technology in the form of an intensely luminous extremely hot radiating atmospheric pressure cylindrical plasma jet controlled in terms of its length, diameter, velocity and power content using a small device called air plasma torch. The novel technology offers a compact device [ Fig.1 & Fig.2] that takes air from the atmosphere and converts it into a controlled well defined jet of air plasma at an electrical power level of many tens of kW with efficiency greater than 60%. Low device cost, low operational cost, simple design, use of cheapest gas (atmospheric air), high efficiency (>60%), high peak temperature (~9000 K at the anode exit) and ease of control are some of the key features of the technology.


Air Plasma Torch


  1. Low device and peripheral cost: reduced installation cost.
  2. Use of air from atmosphere as plasma gas: low operational cost.
  3. Light weight portable compact device: easier handling.
  4. Simple design, easier maintenance: low maintenance cost.
  5. High efficiency (>60% in non-transferred mode and >95% in transferred mode): better performance
  6. Extremely low cathode erosion: long electrode life and low operational cost
  7. Very high plasma temperature (at the exit >8000K): more efficient heat transfer.
  8. Very long plasma jet (>300 mm): better plasma matter interface.
  9. Low gas flow requirement (~20 slpm): reduced cost of gas delivery and post treatment section.



  1. Conversion of waste into energy through plasma gasification
  2. Municipal and medical waste treatment through plasma gasification
  3. Hazardous waste destruction
  4. Nuclear waste immobilization through melting and volume reduction
  5. Chemical processing industries
  6. Thermal barrier coatings
  7. Steel and iron making industries
  8. Metallurgical alloy making industries
  9. High temperature testing of heat shield materials
  10. R& D Applications


Internal components of the device are shown in Fig.3. It has three major sections: (1) plasma source (2) constrictor and (3) main anode. The plasma source section consists of a specially designed hafnium based cathode, gas distributor and coolant distributor. A single coolant loop caters to all the sectors in this section. With the help of a radio-frequency igniter, the plasma (arc) is initiated in this section between the cathode and the nozzle. Once the source is on, the arc is transferred to the constrictor section at low power. The role of the constrictor is to streamline the plasma jet as well as develop appropriate voltage in the plasma column for operation at a given power level. For a given current and gas flow rate, the power of the plasma jet can be adjusted just by changing length of this constrictor section. The power of the plasma is gradually increased to medium level. Next, the arc is transferred the main anode and full power of the jet is achieved. An extremely bright well-formed huge jet comes out from the device as shown in Fig.4.

Air Plasma Torch

Air Plasma Torch


The section of the assembled plasma torch is shown in Fig.5. Electrical connection with power supply for operation is shown in Fig.6. Initially both the connectors "A" and "B" are connected and an arc is initiated between the cathode and the nozzle. The connectors are sequentially opened to make a gradual transfer of the arc from the cathode to the constrictor and finally to the main anode. While in operation at full power, both the connectors remain open.

Air Plasma Torch Air Plasma Torch


The complete plasma system consists of the following five subsystems:

  • Plasma torch
  • Power supply system
  • Air supply system
  • Water supply system
  • Arc ignition and control system
  1. The air plasma torch serves as the key device for the entire system. Rests of the units are the supporting units for the torch.
  2. An IGBT based DC power supply delivers the necessary power for the torch operation.
  3. The air supply system, consisting of a compressor and a storage tank, supplies the necessary airflow for the torch operation.
  4. The chilled water supply system provides necessary cooling for the thermally stressed components of the plasma torch.
  5. The ignition and the control system consists of an HF (high frequency) unit, two contactors and a power supply control unit. The HF unit (included in the power supply) ignites the arc, the contactor units transfer the arc to the main anode, and the power supply control unit controls the delivered power to the torch through control of arc current.

a. V-I characteristics

Typical V-I characteristics for the plasma torch is shown in figure 7. The arc voltage remains nearly constant over a range of currents. A slight drop in the voltage is observed at higher currents. Increase in power with increase in current is slightly non-linear. For operation around 50 kW the torch operates near current 350 A and voltage 156 V.

V-I characteristics

b. Cathode performance

As seen in Fig.8 extremely low electrode loss due to erosion is observed for the cathodes. For new electrodes, the loss is relatively high at the start but decreases fast with time and stays at that extremely low level. The electrode loss reduces with increase in current.

Cathode performance

c. Efficiency and Thermal Losses

Power delivered into the plasma by the power supply is partly dissipated in heating the anode, constrictor and the cathode system. Rest of the delivered power goes into the plasma. As seen in Fig.9 Less than 5 % of the total input electrical power is dissipated by the cathode. The torch efficiency is nearly 65% around 20 kW and around 60% at 50 kW. In transferred arc mode, only loss is due to the cathode and efficiency goes above 95%.

Efficiency and Thermal Losses

Who Should apply

Interested parties with Engineering & Scientific knowledge, good financial background and adequate experience of products manufacturing & fabrication with technical capability in the area of interested technology and having or interested in setting –up facilities for production would be preferred.

How to apply

Send your Technology Transfer Application form duly filled and signed alongwith a Demand Draft/Bankers cheque of Rs. 500/- (for Indian entities) or US $50/- (for foreign entities) drawn in favour of “Accounts Officer, BARC” as application processing fee on following address: 

Head, Technology Transfer and Collaboration Division 
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre,
Trombay, Mumbai – 400 085, India.

Fax : +91-22-25505151

Note:Applications without processing fee as applicable above of Rs. 500/- or US $50/- for each technology will not be considered.

Click here for Technology Transfer Application Form

Contact Us

Technology Transfer and Collaboration Division
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre,
Trombay, Mumbai 400 085.

Fax : 091-022- 25505151
Email : technology@barc.gov.in

How to apply

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