Paper presented at the 9th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Malta, 16-18 July, 2012.
Small scale ionized gases are interesting for a number of high-technology aerospace applications, such as active flow control and spacecraft electric propulsion. Due to the inherent difficulty to perform experiments at this scale (space and time), modeling and simulation appear as a powerful complementary tool to investigate the underlying phenomena. A numerical model is described for simulation of gas and plasma dynamics in micro-scale gaps. The two-dimensional time-dependant model is described and applied with emphasis on terms involving coupling among the fluid, the plasma and applied electric/magnetic fields. The populations are studied from an initial cloud and transients are observed to be particularly important. The governing factors in flow actuation or propulsion are discussed in terms of the spatial and temporal evolution of the plasma and fluid dynamics. Hence, gas heating, electrohydrodynamic effects and body forces are compared to assess the importance of each effect, highlighting the close interaction between the fluid and ionized gas in microplasmas.