You can browse all these railguns either by selecting the links below or by using the drop down box under ‘PLASMA RAILGUNS’ at the top right of the screen.
Railguns, like coilguns, use extremely high currents to create intense electromagnetic fields to propel a projectile. There are two types of railguns, plasma and projectile. The basic railgun has two parallel, conducting rails which are connected by some sort of conducting material which acts as the projectile. Energy is discharged through the rails and projectile creating intense electromagnetic fields around both rails and the projectile which repels all three components from each other. Due to the rails being firmly secured, the projectile is repelled from the gun.
When a relatively thin strip of material is used as the projectile and sufficient power is allowed to pass through the railgun plasma is created. The projectile super-heats into plasma through resistive heating and because it is conductive, accelerates out of the railgun the same way a projectile would. Plasma armatures are so hot and low density that they dissipate into the air shortly after exiting the railgun; the plasma arch/burst can be extended with higher initial velocity, higher temperature, or a denser plasma armature. Although the plasma looks like it would burn through anything, it actually cools too rapidly to be practical. However, it does make for some interesting images.