Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

James E Smith

Committee Co-Chair

V'yacheslav Akkerman

Committee Member

Andrew Lowery


Recent advancements in plasma igniter technology has led to further investigation of plasma igniter applications. Previous research conducted with this technology has shown the effects of plasma under pressure. The research completed was focused on the design and development of a vacuum chamber required for testing plasma applications at pressures below atmospheric conditions and near absolute vacuum. Further research was to develop an apparatus for testing the plasma igniter inside a vacuum chamber to evaluate the effects of Resonance Frequency (RF) plugs and the ability to manipulate the plasma corona electromagnetically. This design analysis was performed using a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) program. The Computer Aided Design (CAD) program known as Solidworks was employed to model the stresses in the design for the limited selection of appropriate materials available for construction of the vacuum chamber. A model of the proposed vacuum chamber was created to run simulations for these conditions. The design of the vacuum chamber required the materials used in the construction to be nonconductive which restricted the material selection. Other parameters were established so that sensors and recording equipment could be used for data acquisition. The ability to record the internal conditions of the vacuum chamber and visual data in the ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) spectrums were a primary concern. Longitudinal and hoop stresses were analyzed for the vacuum chamber design to determine the validity of the simulated results. These results also provided supplementary information on the mechanics of the vacuum chamber assembly. The results from the FEA simulation and experimental validation of that simulation provided a reliable modelling tool for this design effort. The vacuum chamber material was able to withstand the stresses produced by the external atmospheric pressure and successful experiments were conducted using an active plasma source.