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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PLASMA SCIENCE 1

Effect of Circuit Parameters and Environment on


Shock Waves Generated by Underwater
Electrical Wire Explosion
Ben Liu, Deguo Wang, and Yanbao Guo

Abstract The electrical explosion of wire (EEW), which can wire technology are usually interested in Z-pinch plasmas
generate a convenient, stable, and controllable shock wave (SW), [2][4], preparation of nanometer powders [5][7], spray
is gradually acted as a physical and environmentally friendly coating [8][10], etc., which make it attractive for various
enhanced oil recovery technology in petroleum industry. In order
to establish the relationship between the SWs and EEW, the scientific and technological explorations. Nowadays, a new
process and mechanism of underwater EEW were investigated enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology in petroleum industry
and discussed as a function of recipe current, voltage, and is based on EEW. The shock wave (SW) generated by EEW
pressure in the test conditions. This work describes the effect of is convenient, stable, and controllable comparing with the
wire diameter, capacitance, energy deposition, water conductivity, method of explosives, and it is a physical and environmentally
and temperature on the pressure of SWs. It was found that
the amplitude of SWs has a close relationship to the energy friendly technology. The SWs act on the rock and fluid
deposition in vaporization process. Under the same stored energy in stratum periodically through the perforations and without
of different capacitors, the energy deposition in vaporization stage using chemical or biological agents that are harmful to the
is more efficient with high charging voltage and low capacitance environment.
in a stable explosion, because of the high magnetic pressure As an EOR technology, the characteristic of SWs is an
and short discharge time. While, the water conductivity and
temperature have a significant effect on current and voltage in important issue. The circuit inductance as a key parameter of
vaporization stage. The shunt effect of saline water and high the discharge circuit affecting on SWs was discussed [11]. The
thermal conductivity of high-temperature water effect the energy results showed that the peak pressure of SWs decreased with
deposition in this stage, which made the amplitude of SWs are the increase in circuit inductance. The propagation of SWs
falling. had also been tested in water, and it was subject to exponen-
Index Terms Electric explosion, energy deposition, enhanced tial decay along with the propagation distance.The efficiency
oil recovery (EOR), shock waves (SWs). transferred from the stored electrical energy to the generated
water flow is 10% [12], 15% [13], and 18%24% [14] as
I. I NTRODUCTION reported, and they have a close relationship with the para-
meters of discharge circuit. The influence of the solution

T HE phenomenon of electric explosion of wires (EEWs)


describes an interesting physical phenomenon about the
high-density current pulse (104106 A/mm2 ) passing through a
conductivity media on SWs had been tested. They found
that the amplitude of SWs dependence on water conductivity
with a nonlinear relationship [15], but they did not put a
wire [1]. The solid wire went through a phase transformation
wire in the experimental setup. These SWs were generated
process because of the joule heat. As a result, the material
by the hydroelectric effect. Lee and Ford [16] found that
boils up in a burst, a mixture of superheated vapor, boiling
a linear relationship existed between the peak voltage and
droplets of the exploding wire material, and a shockwave
underwater SW pressure. The optimum wire length and cross
scatter to the ambient medium. Applications of the exploding
section is also studied, and the equation to calculate these
Manuscript received October 11, 2016; revised May 10, 2017 and optimum value help to evaluate the efficiency explosion [17].
June 24, 2017; accepted August 7, 2017. This work was supported in part However, the coefficients in their equation, which depend
by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant 51675534, on the wire and medium material. This is still needed to
in part by the Tribology Science Fund of State Key Laboratory of Tribology
under Grant SKLTKF14A08, and in part by the Science Foundation of China investigate under different test environments. In recent years,
University of Petroleum, Beijing, under Grant 2462017BJB06 and Grant the electrical explosion of a single wire is replaced by the wire
C201602. The review of this paper was arranged by Senior Editor W. Jiang. array with different structures, including zigzag wires [13],
(Corresponding author: Yanbao Guo.)
B. Liu is with the College of Mechanical and Transportation Engi- planar wire arrays [14], cylindrical wire arrays [18], ring-
neering, China University of Petroleum, Beijing 102249, China (e-mail: shape wires [19], and spherical wire arrays [20], to generate
liubenblue1201@sina.com). a converging strong SW.
D. Wang and Y. Guo are with the College of Mechanical and Transportation
Engineering, China University of Petroleum, Beijing 102249, China, and also Although many research on EEW have been studied out,
with the Beijing Key Laboratory of Process Fluid Filtration and Separation, finding a good set of design parameters of EEW used in
Beijing 102249, China (e-mail: wdg@cup.edu.cn; gyb@cup.edu.cn). petroleum industry are still far from being achieved. What
Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available
online at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org. is more, due to the special structure of downhole tools and
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TPS.2017.2739757 working conditions, the exploding wire must be a single wire.
0093-3813 2017 IEEE. Personal use is permitted, but republication/redistribution requires IEEE permission.
See http://www.ieee.org/publications_standards/publications/rights/index.html for more information.
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2 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PLASMA SCIENCE

These data were acquired by a Keysight DSO-X 2014A


4-channel digital oscilloscope.
The amount of energy stored in a capacitor is calculated
by E stored = 0.5CU 2 , where C is the capacitance and U is
the charging voltage. The voltage dropped on the exploding
wire U (t) can be calculated by U (t) = U1 (t)-U2 (t), Where
U1 (t) and U2 (t) are the measured voltage of high-voltage and
grounded ends of the Cu wire, respectively (see Fig. 1). U (t)
can also be expressed as the following form:
d I (t) d L(t)
U (t) = U R (t) + U L (t) = IR + L +I (1)
dt dt
where U R (t) = IR is the resistive voltage, U L (t) is the
Fig. 1. Schematic of the wire explosion system. inductive voltages, I is the current, L is the inductance
between the two measurement points of voltage probes, and
TABLE I so is the resistance R. They include two parts, which can be
W IRE PARAMETERS calculated by
L = Le + Lw (2)
R = Re + Rw (3)
where L e and Re are the inductance and resistance of the
electrodes and L w and Rw are the inductance and resistance
of the metal wire. The initial value of L w is equal to the
self-inductance of straight wire [22], [23]. Then, (1) can be
written as
The circuit parameters of EEW, which contains a capacitor U (t) = [U Rw (t) + U Re (t)] + [U L w (t) + U L e (t)]. (4)
with large capacitance and low charging voltage, are different
from the traditional applications. In this paper, we use the However, our purposes is to obtain the value of wire
discharge and pressure waveforms collected by the sensors resistance voltage U Rw (t). Through the short-circuit tests, the
to discuss the effect of capacitance, wire diameter, solution measured L e and Re are 0.066 H and 18 m, respectively.
conductivity, and solution temperature on the SW pressure in Then, the value of U Re (t) and U L e (t) are obtained. In this
a certain distance. paper, the diameter of wire range is from 0.10.3 mm, and
length 25 mm, the maximum L w = 0.031H. Hence, the
inductance of thin wire L w is comparable to the inductance of
II. E XPERIMENTAL S ETUPS
electrodes L e and must be taken into account for calculation of
The schematic of wire explosion system is shown in Fig. 1, the resistive voltage. Because of the wire phase transformation,
which we used to generate the SWs. This system is a simple the wire inductance is variable, and the wire inductance
RLC discharge circuit. The two capacitors used in these tests voltage is also changing. We use a simple dynamic model of
are high-voltage compound dielectric capacitors. A polyester the inductance method [22] to calculate the wire inductance
film and capacitor paper as the solid insulating materials, during discharge process, then, the wire inductance voltage
which are placed in a sealed metal housing filled with mineral U L w (t) is obtained. At last, U Rw (t) can be calculated by (4),
oil, are used in the capacity. The capacitance and rated voltage and the voltages shown in each figures is U Rw (t).
of these capacitors are 30 F and 6 kV. The inductance of Through the above process, the evolution of input energy
capacitor is no more than 0.1 H. When the circuit capacitance E  (t) is estimated on the basic of wire resistance voltage and
C is 30 F, the circuit stray inductance L = 5.34H, circuit current using
resistance except for that of wire load R = 90.4 m with  t
the period T = 79.52s. When the circuit capacitance C is E  (t) = U Rw (t) I (t)dt . (5)
60 F, L = 5.46H, R = 90.3m, and T = 113.71s. The 0
discharge load is placed in an exploding container filled with The gauge used in measuring SW is a PCB-109C11 type
water. In these experiments, a high-voltage and high-current pressure gauge which is widely used in blast tests [12], [20].
pulse was applied to a wire made of copper with the length of The pressure gauge with flash installation is placed at
25 mm and different diameters. The parameters of copper wire about 100 mm away from the wire core. Typical wave-
are shown in Table I, which are getting from the NIST-JANAF forms of the discharge current I (t), voltage U (t), and
tables [21]. These wires were placed between two electrodes. SWs correspond to them are presented in Fig. 2. Because
The discharge waveforms of current I (t) and voltage U (t) of the strong electromagnetic interference, the signal of
were measured by a 101 type current monitors produced by pressure gauge is not real during the discharge process.
Pearson Inc., and two high-voltage dividers which is 50 kV In order to make the measured data more accurate, the gauge
of maximum voltage class, and 600 m of the impedance. cannot be placed too close to the copper wire. The distance
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LIU et al.: EFFECT OF CIRCUIT PARAMETERS AND ENVIRONMENT ON SWs 3

Fig. 2. Discharge and pressure waveforms (U = 3 kV, C = 30 F,


D = 0.2 mm). (a) Discharge current and voltage. (b) Pressure.

between wire and gauge is 100 mm and its fit for these tests.
The discharge of capacitor causes the wire explosion [see
the dashed green line as shown in Fig. 2(a), which represent
the explosion time] and generates of the first peak pressure.
Further, due to the reflection, the pressure waveform sustained
oscillation.

III. R ESULTS AND D ISCUSSION


A. Discharge Waveforms Under Different Capacitances
The wire explosion mechanism is related to the metal phase
transformation. Copper wire is melted by resistive heating
when a high-current pulse is applied to it. When testing
in water, the exterior pressure and cooling effect on wire
made droplets form inside the wire. Therefore, discharges
between the droplets cause the wire to vaporize, then an SW
is generated by the expansion of wire [24], [25]. Fig. 3 shows
the typical voltage and current oscillograms discharged by
different capacitances and wire diameters. The voltage and
current variation were analyzed to evaluate the effect of para-
meters such as capacitance, stored energy, water temperature,
and conductivity. The tliq , tvap , and tcore are the end times of
solid wire transformed to liquid, vaporization, and wire core
discharge stage[22], [26]. The total discharge time ttot is not
represent in these pictures, because it is too long. In order
to guarantee to have the same stored energy, the charging
voltage was different at each capacitor. This made the current
rise rates was different. At the beginning of discharge, the
current and voltage increased. After a certain time, a sudden Fig. 3. Typical voltage and current oscillograms as a function of time.
drop in current and a sharp rise in voltage occurred. This (a) Stored energy 86.4 J (0.1 mm, 2.4 kV, and 1.7 kV). (b) Stored energy
135 J (0.2 mm, 3 kV, and 2.125 kV). (c) Stored energy 345.6 J (0.3 mm,
phenomenon stemmed from an increase in resistivity of wire 4.8 kV, and 3.395 kV).
because of vaporization. The calculated resistances are also
shown in Fig. 3. The resistance is increased several magnitude will continue to discharge, and the resistance during this time
during the vaporization process, and the current was nearly seemed to have little change.
interrupted at the end of vaporization as shown in Fig. 3(a).
However, there are some differences in Fig. 3(b) and (c), once B. Relationship Between Energy Deposition and Shock Waves
explosion occurred, the wire core radii are sustain expansion, As shown in Fig. 3, the influence of capacitance on wire
[24] shows the shadow images for exploding copper wires discharge is significant. Comparative tests are carried out in
with different diameters of 0.1 and 0.2 mm. The expansion of conditions that guarantee the same stored energy; the charging
0.2-mm-diameter wire core is last longer. In other words, it voltage of capacitor with 30-F capacitance is higher than that
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4 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PLASMA SCIENCE

Fig. 4. Energy deposition during the discharge process (corresponding to


the discharge in Fig. 3).

of 60-F capacitance. Therefore, the higher voltage made the


discharge faster. What is more, the peak current and voltage are
also declined in a certain degree under the large capacitance.
In order to compare these two kinds of discharge form, a
group of tests was taken. The energies deposited in wire are
calculated by time integration using the resistance voltage and
current according to (5), and the Evap and Ecore are the energy
deposition in vaporization (tliq tvap ) and wire discharge
process (0 tcore ). The energy corresponded to Fig. 3 is shown
in Fig. 4, and the integration time is also clarified. The energy
deposition rate is faster in high charging voltage. When the
capacitance is 30 F, the energy efficiency of explosion wire
(Ecore /Estored ) with diameter 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3 mm are nearly
13%, 60%, and 58%, respectively. Fig. 5. Energy deposition as a function of stored energy. (a) Energy
deposition in wire core. (b) Energy deposition in vaporization process.
Fig. 5(a) shows the energy depositions in wire core dis-
charge stage by different capacitors. The energy deposition is
nearly a linear relationship with the stored energy in different
wire diameter, but the slope of these lines are not the same. The
capacitance effects the amplitude of energy deposition, and the
wire diameter affects the rate of energy deposition. The dashed
black line in Fig. 5(a) represents the deposited energy equaled
to the atomization enthalpy of copper wire. When the wire
diameter is 0.2 or 0.3 mm, the stored energy is only around
two times of the sublimation heat, and it can make the energy
deposition reach up to the atomization enthalpy. However, this
is difficult for the wire with 0.1-mm diameter. Fig. 5(a) shows
that the energy deposition in wire core under the capacitance
of 30 F are larger than that of 60 F when the wire diameter
range from 0.1 to 0.2 mm, it is probably because of the high
magnetic pressure [22] which made more energy deposited
into wire before explosion. What is more, the short discharge
time also reduce the energy loss in high charging voltage. Fig. 6. Peak pressure of each test as a function of stored energy.
However, it was reversed when the wire diameter is 0.3 mm.
Through the analysis of energy deposition in each stage, the deposition in this process is that their change trends consistent
significant difference of these two discharge circuits focus on with the trend of peak pressure as shown in Fig. 6. This results
the time during tvap and tcore , i.e., during voltage collapse. that the vaporization process is a main factor to generate the
As the wire diameter increased, the rate of energy deposition SWs. Main trends of energy deposition in vaporization process
in this stage is gradually increased. are the same as the energy deposition in wire core except the
Fig. 5(b) shows the energy deposition in vaporization wire diameter of 0.3 mm. As the stored energy increased, the
process [28], [29]. The main reason for presenting the energy energy deposition under the capacitance of 30 F is gradually
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LIU et al.: EFFECT OF CIRCUIT PARAMETERS AND ENVIRONMENT ON SWs 5

Fig. 8. Comparing of the voltage and current oscillograms under dif-


Fig. 7. Process map relating capacitance and diameter of the wire. ferent water conductivities. Stored energy 135 J (0.2 mm, 3 kV30 F,
and 2.125 kV60 F).
approach and ultimately beyond that of 60 F. This result
represents that the energy deposition in large diameter wire
is more complicated. When the energy ratio Ecore /Eatom > 1, D. Effect of Water Conductivity on Shock Waves
the energy deposition in vaporization stage is more efficient One of the main parameters of EEW is the amplitude of
with high charging voltage and low capacitance. When the SWs, which is the most important means to simulate the
energy ratio Ecore /Eatom < 1, low charging voltage and high layer. Underground environment must be more complicated
capacitance would be better. It is worth mentioning that the than the test water. This may have an impact on discharge,
energy deposition during voltage collapse may not enhance thus affecting the generation of SWs. Taking into account
the SWs, although the energy deposition in this stage is also the complex working conditions, the underground water will
high when exploding 0.3-mm wire. be more conductive than the test water. The conductivity of
underground water is not only effect by a number of mineral
but also effect by the project of water injection and hydraulic
C. Explosion Energy Conditions
fracturing.
The energy stored in capacitors is used to explode the wire. The compressibility of water is influenced by conductivity,
The circuit parameters were selected based on the efficient use thus, influence the propagation of SWs. In order to evaluate
of these energies. The energy deposition in wire is an impor- the equation of state of water depending on conductivity, the
tant parameter affecting the SWs when the wire explodes. Tumlirz equation, which is the modified Tait equation, is used
Fig. 7 shows the effect of wire diameter and capacitance on to calculate the specific volume of water [30], [31]. In the
energy deposition. The points in Fig. 7 represent the stored range of pressure generated by wire explosion, the change of
energy in capacitors of each tests above, and the lines divided specific volume is nearly the same under different conduc-
the region into stable (right area) and unstable (left area) tivities (range from 0.5 to 10 mS/cm). Therefore, the direct
explosion region. The energy consumed by explosion exceeds comparison of pressure in different test water is acceptable.
the stored energy in unstable region, and these energies can be Fig. 8 shows the typical voltage and current waveforms
seen from Fig. 5(a) and (b), which are under the ratio line of influenced by water conductivities of 0.5 and 10 mS/cm, and
1. The energies stored in capacitors are insufficient, and they Fig. 9 shows the comparing of discharge parameters. These
do not reach the sublimation energy. The large capacitance tests are all taken under the same parameters shown in Fig. 3
seems to have more advantage to explosion the wire with except the water conductivity. The conductive of original test
large diameter. For the SWs generated by the 0.3-mm wire, water is 0.5 mS/cm, and the saline water is prepared by NaCl
there is a large gap of peak pressure between the two different and original test water. The influence of saline water on voltage
capacitances in unstable explosion. The pressure is too small and current is significant in vaporization process as shown in
under the stored energy of 160 J when the capacitance is Fig. 8. The changes of peak current, voltage, and resistance
30 F, and the sensor can hardly monitor, which are not are shown in Fig. 9(a) and (b), which can be seen a significant
shown in Fig. 6. When the wire diameter is 0.1 mm, the result decline of peak voltage and a modest increase of peak current
is reversed. The low capacitance would be more efficient. in high conductivity water.
In order to maximize the energy efficiency in a stable explo- The change of resistance can be used to explain the reason
sion region, the choice of capacitance is closely linked with of these phenomenon. As shown in Fig. 3, the first peak
the wire diameter under the same stored energy. The energy resistance is related to the peak voltage. They reach the
deposition in vaporization stage is more efficient with high peak nearly at the same time because of the end of vapor-
charging voltage and low capacitance when exploding different ization process. Thus, the decline of the peak resistance in
diameter wires in a stable explosion. Fig. 9(a) and (b) represent that the wire resistance in high
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6 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PLASMA SCIENCE

Fig. 10. Comparing of the voltage and current oscillograms under


Fig. 9. Effect of conductivity on discharge parameters. (a) and (c) Capaci- different temperatures. Stored energy 135 J (0.2 mm, 3 kV30 F,
tance: 30 F. (b) and (d) Capacitance: 60 F. and 2.125 kV60 F).

conductivity water is less than that in original test water at the


end of vaporization process. In the process of vaporization,
the resistance is gradually increased as the superheated liquid
copper wire transformed into a vaporization state. When the
resistance up to a certain value, the shunt effect of high
conductive test water cannot be ignored. At this time, the
current is not totally through the wire, in other words, the
stored energy will not be totally deposited into the wire but
consumed in the surrounding saline water. This will reduce
the rate of vaporization. What is more, these changes can
also be different under the different wire diameters. When the
wire diameter is 0.1 mm, the resistance is significant high
at the time of voltage breakdown [see Fig. 3(a)], and the
excess energy in capacitor is papered for restrike [12], [32].
However, this must be different in high conductivity water
because of the excess energy are consumed through saline
Fig. 11. Effect of temperature on discharge parameters. (a) and (c) Capaci-
water, and there is no restrike. When the wire diameter rise, tance: 30 F. (b) and (d) Capacitance: 60 F.
the resistance between the electrodes is relatively low at the
time of voltage breakdown [see Fig. 3(b) and (c)]. They are
gradually reduced as shown in Fig. 9(a) and (b). Although It is significantly higher than that of room temperature. The
some of the stored energy consumed in the surrounding water compressibility of water influenced by temperature (range
cannot be prevent, there are more stored energy deposited in from 25 C to 75 C) is also acceptable [30], [31].
the wire with lower resistance during the discharge process. Fig. 10 shows the typical voltage and current waveforms
The shunt currents consumed by the conductive water are influenced by temperature of 25 C and 75 C, and Fig. 11
reduced. These can conclude that the wire with large diameter shows the comparing of discharge parameters [33]. The tem-
must be more efficient when tests in a conductive water. perature of original test water is 25 C, and we use the
Fig. 9(c) and (d) shows the peak pressure and the energy constant-temperature heating platform to keep the high tem-
deposition during the vaporization process. The energy deposi- perature of test water. The influence of water temperature on
tions are declined, and so are the peak pressures. The decline voltage and current is also significant in vaporization process
of peak pressure also illustrates the energy loss during the as shown in Fig. 10. Comparison tests are taken under the
vaporization process in high conductive test water, because parameters shown in Fig. 3. Unlike the tests in saline water,
these parameters have the same change tendency. The capaci- the peak voltage has a significant increase and the current
tor with different capacitance had no significant impact on the has a modest decrease in high temperature water. However,
discharge process when tests in a conductive water. this is also different under different diameter wires. When
the wire diameter is 0.1 mm, the peak voltage, current, and
E. Effect of Water Temperature on Shock Waves energy deposition during the vaporization process have a
The other important issue is the temperature of under- small change. The peak resistances between the electrodes are
ground water which is thousands of meters underground. extremely high and they are not shown in Fig. 11(a) and (b).
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LIU et al.: EFFECT OF CIRCUIT PARAMETERS AND ENVIRONMENT ON SWs 7

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8 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PLASMA SCIENCE

[27] A. Sayapin, A. Grinenko, S. Efimov, and Y. E. Krasik, Comparison Deguo Wang received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.
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[28] Q. Zhou et al., Effect of current rate on energy deposition of electrical He is currently a Professor of mechatronics
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pp. 36393643, Nov. 2014. Transportation Engineering, China University of
[29] Q. Zhou et al., Effect of subatmospheric pressure on deposited energy Petroleum, where he is also with the Key Laboratory
for electrical wire explosion in air, IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci., vol. 42, of Process Fluid Filtration and Separation.
no. 10, pp. 34053410, Oct. 2014.
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Yanbao Guo received the Ph.D. degree in mechani-


Ben Liu was born in Hubei, China, in 1988. cal engineering from the China University of Petro-
He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechani- leum, Beijing, China, in 2011.
cal engineering from Yangtze University, Jingzhou, He is currently an Associate Professor of
China, in 2010 and 2013, respectively. He is cur- mechatronics engineering with the College of
rently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in mechatron- Mechanical and Transportation Engineering, China
ics engineering with the College of Mechanical University of Petroleum, where he is also with the
and Transportation Engineering, China University of Key Laboratory of Process Fluid Filtration and Sep-
Petroleum, Beijing, China. aration. His current research interests include basic
His current research interests include basic and and applied research of mechatronics, and tribology
applied research of electrical wire explosion down- and surface engineering for oil/gas exploration and
hole tool for enhancing oil recovery. transportation.