Both fluid and particle models are commonly used to simulate streamer discharges. In this paper, we quantitatively study the agreement between these approaches for axisymmetric and 3D simulations of positive streamers in air. We use a drift-diffusion-reaction fluid model with the local field approximation and a PIC-MCC (particle-in-cell, Monte Carlo collision) particle model. The simulations are performed at 300 K and 1 bar in a 10 mm plate-plate gap with a 2 mm needle electrode. Applied voltages between 11.7 and 15.6 kV are used, which correspond to background fields of about 15 to 20 kV/cm. Streamer properties like maximal electric field, head position and velocity are compared as a function of time or space. Our results show good agreement between the particle and fluid simulations, in contrast to some earlier comparisons that were carried out in 1D or for negative streamers. To quantify discrepancies between the models, we mainly look at streamer velocities as a function of streamer length. For the test cases considered here, the mean deviation in streamer velocity between the particle and fluid simulations is less than 4%. We study the effect of different types of transport data for the fluid model, and find that flux coefficients lead to good agreement whereas bulk coefficients do not. Furthermore, we find that with a two-term Boltzmann solver, data should be computed using a temporal growth model for the best agreement. The numerical convergence of the particle and fluid models is also studied. In fluid simulations the streamer velocity increases somewhat using finer grids, whereas the particle simulations are less sensitive to the grid. Photoionization is the dominant source of stochastic fluctuations in our simulations. When the same stochastic photoionization model is used, particle and fluid simulations exhibit similar fluctuations.

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Plasma Sources Science and Technology
Multiscale Dynamics

Wang, Z., Sun, A., & Teunissen, J. (2022). A comparison of particle and fluid models for positive streamer discharges in air. Plasma Sources Science and Technology, 31(1). doi:10.1088/1361-6595/ac417b