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[en] Plasma wakefield acceleration is the most promising acceleration technique known nowadays, able to provide very high accelerating fields (10–100 GV/m), enabling acceleration of electrons to GeV energy in few centimeter. However, the quality of the electron bunches accelerated with this technique is still not comparable with that of conventional accelerators (large energy spread, low repetition rate, and large emittance); radiofrequency-based accelerators, in fact, are limited in accelerating field (10–100 MV/m) requiring therefore hundred of meters of distances to reach the GeV energies, but can provide very bright electron bunches. To combine high brightness electron bunches from conventional accelerators and high accelerating fields reachable with plasmas could be a good compromise allowing to further accelerate high brightness electron bunches coming from LINAC while preserving electron beam quality. Following the idea of plasma wave resonant excitation driven by a train of short bunches, we have started to study the requirements in terms of plasma for SPARC-LAB (Ferrario et al., 2013 ). In particular here we focus on hydrogen plasma discharge, and in particular on the theoretical and numerical estimates of the ionization process which are very useful to design the discharge circuit and to evaluate the current needed to be supplied to the gas in order to have full ionization. Eventually, the current supplied to the gas simulated will be compared to that measured experimentally.