This thesis focuses on validation of a 0D plasma kinetic model and its subsequent use as an explanatory tool to support the results of hot-fire tests of a plasma assisted rotating detonation combustor. The plasma model predictions showed good agreement with experimentally measured values of various ground state species number densities, vibrationally excited N2 number densities, plasma temperatures, and ignition delay times.
Once validated, the plasma model was combined with a ZND detonation model and semi-empirical correlation to determine the effects of a non-thermal plasma on the reduction of the detonation cell size for an H2 - air mixture. The modeling results showed that non-thermal plasma significantly reduces the detonation cell size. This effect is most pronounced at lean conditions, where the model predicted a reduction in cell size by a factor of more than 100. For stoichiometric and rich conditions, the cell size reduction was around a factor of 5.
An investigation was conducted to determine the viability of using a non-thermal plasma to expand the operating regime of a rotating detonation combustor. The plasma was produced with a nanosecond pulse generator connected to a ceramic and metal centerbody electrode. Hot-fire testing results showed that the plasma causes detonation onset in conditions that would otherwise not support detonation. This effect was most prominent at near-stoichiometric conditions, with a reduced effect for richer or leaner mixtures.