The majority of literature regarding the numerical simulation of arc discharges in gaseous environments has used a plasma physics approach. Virtually all simulations treat the discharge as an idealized gaseous plasma, which can be described by temperature, pressure, and electric field. This approach can work well if the media is a shielding gas such as Argon; however, the approach does not work well for processes such as underwater welding, EDM, and underwater discharges used to generate high purity particles. The reason these discharges do not have many extensive simulation efforts as described in the literature is because they occur in liquid dielectric media (Oil and water) which complicates the simulation efforts. Most research efforts in these areas describe experimental methods to evaluate discharge properties In this research a new method to investigate discharges in a dielectric media using an electrostatic and particle physics approach is proposed and validated. A commercial code that has been developed to simulate charged particle beams, dielectric materials, and perform multi-physics analyses, is the Vector Fields suite of solvers from Cobham Technical Services. This research demonstrates a simulation methodology that can be used to simulate a DC electric arc discharge in a lossy dielectric media using the Vector Fields environment. This simulation is the first of its kind to simulate this type of a discharge with a commercial FEA code. As such there are some limitations to the simulation. However, the simulation can be used to investigate the following:

1.Any metal, electrode geometry, discharge gap, or dielectric media can be studied

2.Primary Beam Physics

– Electron velocity/acceleration (direct calculation of electron temperature)

– Energy deposition on the anode from all emission sources

– Effect of dielectric media on beam physics (trajectories, velocity, constriction, beam induced magnetic fields, space chare, and secondary emission)

– Beam current

– Particle trajectories (including relativistic effects)

3. Secondary Particle Generation and physics

– Atomic species (neutral particles or ions) and secondary electron emission

– Particle trajectories

– Back ion bombardment on the cathode



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





discharge in dielectric media, simulation, vector fields, particle physics, electron beam, secondary emission, particle trajectory, constricted arc