Acoustic impulses generated by air-bubble stimulated underwater spark discharges

Sun, Y. and Timoshkin, I. V. and Given, M. J. and Wilson, M. P. and Wang, T. and MacGregor, S. J. and Bonifaci, N. (2018) Acoustic impulses generated by air-bubble stimulated underwater spark discharges. IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation, 25 (5). pp. 1915-1923. ISSN 1070-9878 (

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Considerable research efforts have been expended in investigating and optimising the emission of acoustic pressure impulses by high power spark discharges in water. Several methods are typically used to generate transient underwater spark discharges, including breakdown of water by stressing electrode(s) with HV impulses, initiation of spark discharges with thin metallic wires placed between opposite electrodes and by injecting gas bubbles into the inter-electrode gap. This paper is aimed at the investigation of the acoustic, hydrodynamic and electrical characteristics of underwater spark discharges initiated by injected air-bubbles. At a constant applied voltage, the injection of air bubbles allows the inter-electrode gap to be increased thus producing stronger acoustic impulses. This paper reports on the impact of injected air bubbles on the characteristics of transient underwater plasma discharges and on the functional relationships between hydrodynamic and electrical parameters of such discharges, including breakdown voltage, plasma resistance, energy delivered into the plasma cavity and the period of gas/plasma cavity oscillation. An analytical model which relates the acoustic efficiency, plasma resistance and energy available in discharge has been developed which can be used for the optimisation and tailoring of underwater plasma-acoustic sources.