Research into the military applications of high-energy pulsed power systems is conducted in the 34,261-square-foot Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, High Power Systems Facility. The facility houses Shiva Star, the Air Force’s largest pulsed-power system. Shiva Star stores nearly 10 million joules of energy (equal to 5 pounds of TNT). It produces a pulse of 120,000 volts and 10 million amps in one-millionth of a second to produce a power flow equivalent to a terawatt. Shiva Star has evolved from a 1 megajoule system in 1975, a 2 megajoule system in 1979, to its final form as a 10 megajoule system in 1982. Shiva Star has been used over the years for many different types of experiments such as pulse compression to increase energy in the pulse, plasma liner implosion for production of x-rays, solid liner implosions to compress matter to high density and pressure, compact toroids for generating high-energy plasmas, and simulation of explosive pulsed-power generators. [WIKI image]
Open-air plasma device could revolutionize energy generation, US Navy’s weaponry
Sebastian Anthony on April 17, 2013
Researchers at the University of Missouri have devised a method of creating and launching rings of plasma through open air. Depending on your point of view, this could have significant repercussions for the energy generation and storage industry… or, more realistically, this could be exactly what the nascent plasma weapons industry needs to finally get plasma rifles and shields onto the market. … the weaponization of the technology — imagine a plasma rifle that can cut through just about anything, or a plasma shield that can instantly incinerate incoming ammunition and missiles. This theory is made all the more plausible by the research group’s primary source of funding: the Office of Naval Research — the same office of the US Navy that funds research into the humbling and/or terrifying railguns that you can see in the video below.
THE SHIVA STAR capacitor bank, a 120 KV parallel bank storing 9.5 MJ with a short circuit current of almost 90 MA, at the AFWL is the world’s highest energy, fast capacitor bank. The approximately 3 microsecond short circuit current risetime is shortened by an inductive store/opening switch power conditioning system in which a total inductance of about 10 nH is charged with 35 MA currents. Electrically exploded conductor (fuse) opening switches are employed to interrupt the current in a few hundred nanoseconds to deliver a fast rising current to the load. The system is in operation at the AFWL and is used for a variety of plasma physics experiments. Performance of the bank and pulse compression system are discussed.
Over the last ten years the total energy needed to power state-of-the-art plasma physics and pulse power experiments has increased from a fraction of a megajoule to many megajoules. As the t o t a l energy has increased, the conventional water insulated coaxial pulse line design philosophy has become a less and less attractive approach to meet the total energy requirements and new, and advanced power conditioning concepts must be developed and employed. The SHIVA STAR system, a 9.5 MJ fast capacitor bank, was designed and built at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory to power plasma physics experiments for the AFWL Shiva Ray Source Technology Development Program. The system is in routine operation and experiments to explore advanced power conditioning concepts based on magnetic (inductive) intermediate energy storage are being conducted as part of the AFWL SHIVA research program. Previous systems in the SHIVA family have successfully demonstrated the use of inductive intermediate storage systems, charged from high performance capacitor banks and switched with high current (15 MA – 300 KV) fuse opening switches. The SHIVA STAR system is approximately 5 times as energetic as the previous system while retaining the same level of high performance, low inductance and high output currents. This paper outlines the characteristics of the SHIVA STAR system including its operational parameters, describes the inductive pulse compression system currently in operation on the machine, describes the potential performance of the power conditioning system, and presents results of initial operational pulse power test of the system.
Shiva Star: Pioneering megagauss science and technology
Summary form only given. The Shiva program at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory developed radiation sources for the purpose of assuring nuclear survivability for defense systems.
The program pioneered the use of MJ-class pulsed power systems for simulation of the x-ray radiation environment from a nuclear detonation. The high energy pulsed power development arc culminated in the 9.4 MJ Shiva Star capacitor bank, commissioned in 1982. The reconfiguration drove advancements in capacitor energy density and high-current rail-gap switch design. Modestly updated capacitors and rail-gap switches were integrated into Atlas more than a decade later.
Shiva Star enabled many firsts in megagauss high energy density science. With its microsecond rise-time, Shiva Star was designed to function as a laboratory stepping stone to facilitate load development for explosive pulsed power generators producing 50 MA or greater peak current. High-current and high pulse energy were seen as the key performance enablers for weapons simulation, while the machines currently employed in this task reflect recognition of the importance of the radiation pulse duration.
High energy density plasma (HEDP) science on Shiva Star initiated with soft x-ray source development based on Z-pinches of gas puff loads and cylindrical foils. The output reached large fractions of the stored energy with pulse widths on the order of 1 μs. In an effort to compress the pulse supplied to the Z-pinch load and thereby reduce the x-ray pulse length, the wire-array plasma flow switch was developed. The plasma flow switch itself represents an unexploited approach to warm x-ray production. HEDP research continued on Shiva Star, exploring several varieties of magnetized target fusion. Initial efforts centered on the MARAUDER concept to produce a compact toroid for eventual compression. About the same time, the research team pioneered the implosion of solid spherical and cylindrical metal shells; material strength stabilized the liners against the onset of the magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor instability, enabling large compression ratios with negligible material blow-off from the inner surface.
This work led to a partnership between AFRL and researchers engaged in field reversed configuration (FRC) plasma development at LANL. The venture concentrated on formation, translation, capture, and compression of the high-density, closed field line FRC. The FRC work culminated in the first-ever compressional heating of a high-density, closed field-line plasma target. Shiva Star occupies a unique place in high energy density capability and the components theoretically have significant shot life remaining.
How could plasma be contained for use in weapons?
Plasma requires constant electrical energy input to be maintained, so storing your plasma bullets is the biggest constraint, barring some sort of Infinite Power Supply. Other than that, you’re essentially constructing bullet-sized fluorescent tubes with some sort of attached supercapacitor that can provide ionization voltages for ~10s. Glass, perhaps jacketed in something more durable like ceramic, could contain the plasma apparatus. Some handwaving of high-capacity, high-voltage, extremely compact and inexpensive supercapacitors will be needed.
To produce plasma-cutter-like effects on armored vehicles, which I assume is the goal, is slightly different, as the plasma in the above bullet won’t last very long after the bullet impacts and the power source is (presumably) destroyed.
A transferred plasma cutter works by inducing a plasma in a carrier gas, which creates a very conductive path between the electrode and the “target” material, which creates a tremendous amount of heat. To recreate this in a bullet, you need:
• A small, extremely-highly-compressed canister of carrier gas
• A compact, high-voltage capacitor
• An electrode embedded inside the bullet
• A bullet design that becomes a nozzle on impact (hollow-
The idea here is that the bullet is fired not containing plasma, but everything needed to make plasma. On impact, the electrode is pushed back into the power supply and the carrier gas is released through the nozzle created on impact. The electrode strikes a plasma arc to the target, creating a conductive path and emptying the capacitor into the target. This creates your localized heat for as long as the arc can be maintained, greatly weakening or destroying the material at the point of impact.
I’m not sure if this would be able to disable a tank with a single shot, but it is scalable assuming you have this kind of super-capacitive tech. A bigger projectile yields a higher payload, so a rifle-mounted tank buster could be devised.
Posted in: Heavy Weapons
PE weapons are MI derived technology and their exact workings are the matter of much debate in the Technosphere. The simplest theory for the effects of this weapon is that the target either expands and falls apart or melts, sometimes doing both and sometime doing so extremely rapidly and almost explosively.
It is believed that PE weapon fire a toroid of plasma that induces rapid entropy in the target upon impact. Exactly how this occurs is unknown with speculation that the plasma toroid contains nanobots, time distortion devices and a multitude of other theories from the sublime to the ridiculous.
What are known are the deadly effects of these weapons:
A hit from a PE weapon typically results in a rapid breakdown of the targeted substance along with the possibility of an entropic explosion – an explosion in which the reactants undergo a large change in volume without releasing a large amount of heat. The results of such an explosion are universally deadly to living matter and almost as universally fatal to inanimate matter.
Where an entropic explosion does not occur then there is marked degradation to the integrity of the target substance and usually a very large amount of heat given off. The likelihood of which effect occurs is seemingly random, however, the massive variation in effect makes it extremely hard to counter in any form of armour. Composite heavy armours with molecular-induction-bonding and thermo-dumping are the most resistant but the level of protection they offer is still rather limited.
Due to the possibility of “burn-through” (the passing of the entropic reaction from the surface material to those underneath it) the wisest course of action if you survive the initial impact is to instantly discard any material that is showing entropic effects. The similarity to acid burning through one material to the one underneath is the best analogy for those who have not encountered this type of weapon.
PE ammunition is extremely unstable and accidents of an extreme nature have occurred with alarming regularity even within the supposed UTQ environment of the GOTA. Storage of ammunition without UTQ knowledge and assistance is widely considered as suicidal and even GOTA teams only store small amounts of ammunition in any one place at any one time, subject to strict inspections and given a lifetime after which they must be discarded
The extreme lethality of these weapons, their complicated production and extreme Maintenance TQ requirements mean they are the most heavily restricted weapons in production anywhere in or outside of the Technosphere.
T-PEA and GoT-DF forces are the only ones likely to be found using them, although some scavenged from battlefields do occasionally turn up elsewhere, however with the storage of the ammunition being so dangerous they are usually kept as “trophy weapons” without any ammunition and there is also a thriving market in fake PE weaponry.
The most common version of PE weapons is the PE-Canon, which works in much the same way as a flame-thrower by spraying entropic-plasma over a limited area. It is hazardous to all materials, doubly so to an electronic systems as it induces a field similar to that of an EM-field during the entropic degradation phase, thus even where it may not destroy electronics it may render then inoperable.
Ball Lightning: Self-Organized Plasma Toroids
For over ten years, Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems, Inc. (Acton, MA), has been on a mission. He’s been trying to show that ball
lightning—a rare and unexplained natural event in which a spherical cloud glows for as long as a minute—could hold the key to a revolutionary energy technology. This mission recently passed an important milestone as Dr. Chiping Chen, a research scientist at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center, has confirmed the existence of a generic class of self-organized plasma toroids, stable in atmosphere with no external magnetic fields required for containment.
Navy’s ‘Star Wars’ weapon could be used on a new stealth warship: Gun that penetrates concrete 100 MILES away to be ready in 2018
• Rail gun can fire a shell weighing 10kg at up to 5,400mph with such force that it penetrates three concrete walls
• Weapon uses electricity instead of gunpowder to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound
• Navy wants to skip an at-sea prototype in favor of installing an unit aboard one of its new Zumwalt-class destroyers