Theoretical and experimental investigation of Hall thruster miniaturization
Author(s)Warner, Noah Zachary, 1978-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
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Interest in small-scale space propulsion continues to grow with the increasing number of small satellite missions, particularly in the area of formation flight. Miniaturized Hall thrusters have been identified as a candidate for lightweight, high specific impulse propulsion systems that can extend mission lifetime and payload capability. A set of scaling laws was developed that allows the dimensions and operating parameters of a miniaturized Hall thruster to be determined from an existing, technologically mature baseline design. The scaling analysis preserves the dominant plasma processes that determine thruster performance including ionization, electron confinement and recombination losses. These scaling laws were applied to the design of a 9mm diameter, nominally 200W thruster based on the Russian D-55 anode layer Hall thruster. The Miniature Hall Thruster (MHT-9) design was further refined using magnetostatic and steady-state thermal finite element modeling techniques. Performance testing was conducted over a wide range of input powers from 20-500W with voltages between 100-300V and propellant flow rates of 0.3-1.0mg/s. Measured thrust was 1-18mN with a maximum thrust efficiency of 34% and specific impulse of 2000s. Significant erosion of thruster surfaces was observed due to the high plasma density required to maintain collisional mean free paths. Although the thrust efficiency was significantly lower than predicted by scaling laws, the MHT-9 is the best performing subcentimeter diameter Hall thruster built to date. A dimensionless performance analysis has shown that while the magnetic confinement ratio was successfully scaled, the thruster did not maintain the desired Knudsen number because of plasma heating.(cont.) These trends were confirmed using a computational simulation. An analytical model of electron temperature predicts that, due to a larger relative exposed wall area, the peak temperature inside the MHT-9 is higher than that of the D-55, resulting in greater ion losses and beam divergence. The inability to maintain geometric similarity was a result of the inherent challenges of maintaining magnetic field shape and strength at small scale, and this difficulty is identified as the fundamental limitation of Hall thruster miniaturization.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2007.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Page 264 blank.Includes bibliographical references (p. 251-258).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aeronautics and Astronautics.