Alkali metal DC arc discharge has the characteristics of easy ionization, low power consumption, high plasma temperature and ionization degree, etc, which can be applied in aerospace vehicles in various ways. In this paper, we calculate the physical property parameters of lithium vapor, one of the major alkali metals, and analyze the discharge characteristics of lithium plasma with the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) model. The discharge effects between constant current and voltage sources are also compared. It is shown that the lithium plasma of DC arc discharge has relatively high temperature and current density. The peak temperature can reach tens of thousands of K, and the current density reaches 6×10 7 A −2 . Under the same rated power, the plasma parameters of the constant voltage source discharge are much higher than those of the constant current source discharge, which can be used as the preferred discharge mode for aerospace applications.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 61302029, 61571031, 61671044 and 61871018