Complex computational plasmas: an outlook

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Renewable forms of electricity generation have the property that they are intermittent; the sources are not always available when they need to be. Furthermore not all energy consumption is in the form of electricity. Sources like fossil fuels can be used to bridge the gap between supply and demand, however they are harmful to the environment when used to produce energy.
An alternative is to store excess electricity produced from renewable sources in a carbon-neutral manner. One method is to decompose CO2 into CO. In turn the produced CO can be used as a base ingredient for the production of carbon-based fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch process. These fuels present a fully carbon-neutral storage medium for energy, compatible with existing infrastructure.
A promising method for the decomposition of CO2 is a microwave plasma reactor. In such a reactor the specific geometry used favors a process known as vibrational laddering, enhancing the CO2 dissociation. Numerical simulation is a valuable tool for unraveling the physics of such a process and allow for further optimization.
However at the time of writing a full 2D/3D numerical simulation of such a system is currently out of reach. The complex reaction mechanisms present a strong computational challenge even on modern high-end hardware, as each of the hundreds of reactions and intermediate reaction products have to be taken into account at each gridpoint.
The current project entails reducing the complex CO2 chemistry to a more computationally efficient form. Then introduce a set of discretization algorithms that respect the coupling between chemical species present in the plasma. Finally present a standardized method for the exchange of simulation data via an extension of the LxCat webportal.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • computational plasma physics
  • Linear algebra
  • chemical reduction
  • discretization scheme
  • data dissemination


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