Experimental study of ignition of magnesium powder by electrostatic discharge

Ervin Beloni, Edward L. Dreizin

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40 Scopus citations


Ignition of non-aerosolized powders by electrostatic discharge (ESD) is investigated. A spherical powder of Mg, for which thermal ignition kinetics was described in the literature, was used in experiments. The experimental setup was built based on a commercially available apparatus for ESD ignition sensitivity testing. Additional diagnostics enabled measurements of electrical current, voltage, and spark and ignited powder emission in real time. The spark duration was of the order of a few μs. The spark current and voltage were always observed to have significant AC components. The electrical impedance of the spark discharge was determined experimentally using the recorded current traces and assuming that the spark and powder could be represented as a series LRC circuit. The optical emission was filtered to separate the signals produced by the spark plasma and by the heated and igniting powder. The radiation signal produced by the igniting powder was always delayed after the spark. The delay time decreased from about 3.5 to 0.5 ms as the spark energy increased from 10 to 60 mJ; the delay remained nearly constant when the spark energy continued to increase to over 100 mJ. For experiments where the powder volume decreased or where binder was introduced delay times were reduced. For the powder with a small amount of binder, the ignition delay continued to decrease for spark energies exceeding 60 mJ. Interpretation of the obtained experimental data suggests that the ignition is primarily due to direct Joule heating of the powder by the spark current.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1386-1395
Number of pages10
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • ESD ignition
  • Non-aerosolized powders
  • Sensitivity


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