posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 06:26 PM
Originally posted by Jamuhn
What about this...
What if you ejected some sort of control wire when you turned it on? In that way you would be able to control its length...
Actually, you're getting warm... I read a research paper in the late 90's about a project at NASA where a team was trying to develop something to
use as a cutting torch for off world and repair/emergency applications. It certainly wasn't anything they were trying to make handheld, but one can
imagine it could have been. The tool had a telescoped anode that would extend when the device was turned on, the cathode remaining in the base. As
the anode extended out a jet of vapor was emitted through holes in the telescoping rod, and an electric arc was struck. I believe the vapor was
Argon, I know it was one of the noble elements. The vapor phase change combined with the surrounding temperature created a stable, superconductive
arc that required very little energy to maintain. Once the arc came in contact with object the current draw would soar, but they said it was still
far more efficient than traditional techniques.
The weakness of the system was the dependence on Argon. They claimed they wouldn't need much to maintain the arc, as they planned a recapture system
that could recycle the energized Argon. But once it began to cut something, it'd be losing quite a bit. They mentioned plans to switch to Helium or
another more available (off world) noble element once they got the system working, something about the heavier Argon that made earth bound tests
The paper concluded by saying they had managed to create a stable (non-superconductive) arc in the lab, and had cut various samples. I remember being
impressed, the arc was something like a foot long, and they had cut through thick terrestrial rock samples and various metals. They were struggling
with issues related to the anode/cathode being consumed by the arc; they had to replace them after each test. They hoped to test in space or in a
better environment that would let them see if when the anode/cathode were in a superconductive state the issue would disappear. Perhaps they weren't
able to surmount those issues, or lost funding. I heard no more about it.