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Plasma technology

The Industrial Plasma Laboratory develops industrial applications for thermal plasma. The plasma is obtained through the heating of gases to more than 3,000 Celsius degrees (C°). Experiments at such high temperatures were impossible in the old laboratory, installed in one of the buildings of the Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute of Unicamp. “We needed a more adequate location”, says Aruy Marotta.

In the experiments with plasma, the minimum power demanded by the experiments is of 10 Kilowatts (kW), while the other laboratories may consume at the maximum 1 kW. As well as this, the laboratory has a high consumption of water and of gases, which demands an exhaust system adequate to avoid the risk of intoxication. “Without special installations we couldn't have gone forward with the work”, says Marotta.

Unicamp solved part of the problem by ceding land and the resources for the construction of a new building. The other part came through the Infrastructure Program, which financed the building of a closed water system for the temperature control of the laboratory, with the capacity for 55 cubic meters (m3) per hour, systems of cryogenic gases and of compressed air, the gas workshop, an exhaust system and even a safety system with cameras, since the new laboratory was located in an isolated area and subject to robbery.

Two transformers were installed, one of them being 500 kVA and the other 440 volts, just for plasma torches. Today, Marotta is developing a project in partnership with the company Villares Metals S.A. for the application of a plasma torch in the production of steel. The current system used by Villares Metals leads to a very large variation in the temperature of the metal, which jeopardizes the quality of the product.