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Summary form only given. Collisional excitation of dense gases with beams of energetic, ionizing particles leads to light emission and gas kinetic processes in mainly recombination dominated plasmas. The experiments in this field are of fundamental as well as practical interest and range from the demonstration of short wavelength lasers pumped by pulsed high energy uranium beams to the practical use of ultraviolet light sources applying continuous low energy electron-beam excitation. The energy loss of the projectiles in the entrance foil of the gas targets plays a key role for the experimental techniques. The introduction of extremely thin (300 nm) ceramic membranes as entrance foils for electron beams about 10 years ago was an innovation which led to the development of very compact instruments for electron beams excitation of dense gases or liquids, which can now be built even as portable devices. Heavy ion beam pumped laser experiments and gas kinetic studies using the low energy electron beam excitation will be presented. Vacuum ultraviolet light sources based on the novel electron beam technology and their application for photoionization in analytical instruments will also be described.