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Energy needed to breakdown a series spark gap

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Newbie level 2
Feb 1, 2012
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I have a coil that fires across 5 series spark gaps in air. I'm having trouble calculating the energy needed to breakdown the gaps. Also been reading a bunch on spark gaps and I'm confused how exactly does it work with multiple series gaps. charge is applied to SG1+ and SG5-. What is happening leading up to the first arc. Is the first arc a simultaneous event across each gap... ie current can't flow without a return path to source.

Understanding this could help me calculate the energy needed to cause an arc. I want to make it as efficient as possible so the firing energy is just enough to cause the arc. The end goal is to increase my arc frequency and keep my total energy loss as low as possible.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

This might be a start:

But if you don't know much about high voltage, maybe you shouldn't be messing with high voltage....

Thanks Barry. I will use the plots provided in the resource you linked.

To clarify, the coil output energy is unknown and the breakdown occurs well before the coil reaches its full voltage potential. This causes the excess energy from the coil to reflect back and forth in the circuit until it is finally damped. Some of these reflections back cause more arcs which can be unmanageable at higher frequencies. I was looking for a standard test that would allow me to realize the energy dissipated by the gaps and the energy provided by the coils. I would like to match these energy values to increase the efficiency of the device. The question was asked because my oscilloscope is getting interference and it is unreliable for measuring the energy used in the spark gaps. Typical equations for gaps are also trouble because my electrodes are hollow and the tip is not perfectly flat but has some rounded edges. (geometry at tip is like a half torus.

Thanks again.


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