Multiphysics Simulation of Thermal Plasma Produced by Lightning Strike on Aircraft Structures

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A novel numerical technique is proposed to model thermal plasma of microseconds/milliseconds time-scale effect. Modelling thermal plasma due to lightning strike will allow the estimation of electric current density, plasma pressure, and heat flux at the surface of the aircraft structure. These input data can then be used for better estimation of the mechanical/thermal induced damage on the aircraft structures for better protection systems design. Thermal plasma generated during laser cutting, electric (laser) welding and other plasma processing techniques have been the focus of many researchers. Thermal plasma is a gaseous state that consists from a mixture of electrons, ions, and natural particles. Thermal plasma can be assumed to be in local thermodynamic equilibrium, which means the electrons and the heavy species have equal temperature. Different numerical techniques have been developed using a coupled Navier Stokes – Heat transfer – Electromagnetic equations based on the assumption that the thermal plasma is a single laminar gas flow. These previous efforts focused on generating thermal plasma of time-scale in the range of seconds. Lighting strike on aircraft structures generates thermal plasma of time-scale of milliseconds/microseconds, which makes the previous physics used not applicable. The difficulty comes from the Navier-Stokes equations as the fluid is simulated under shock load, this introducing significant changes in the density and temperature of the fluid.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 07 Oct 2014
Event4th Aircraft Structural Design Conference - Queens University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 07 Oct 201409 Oct 2014


Conference4th Aircraft Structural Design Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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