Fully kinetic numerical modeling of a plasma thruster
Author(s)Szabo, James Joseph, 1969-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
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A Hall effect plasma thruster with conductive acceleration channel walls was numerically modeled using 2D3V Particle-in-Cell (PIC) and Monte-Carlo Collision (MCC) methodolo- gies. Electron, ion, and neutral dynamics were treated kinetically on the electron time scale to study transport, instabilities, and the electron energy distribution function. Axisymmet- ric R-Z coordinates were used with a non-orthogonal variable mesh to account for important small-scale plasma structures and a complex physical geometry. Electric field and sheath structures were treated self-consistently. Conductive channel walls were allowed to float electrically. The simulation included, via MCC, elastic and inelastic electron-neutral colli- sions, ion-neutral scattering and charge exchange collisions, and Coulomb collisions. The latter were also treated through a Langevin (stochastic) differential equation for the particle trajectories in velocity space. Ion-electron recombination was modeled at the boundaries, and neutrals were recycled into the flow. The cathode was modeled indirectly by inject- ing electrons at a rate which preserved quasineutrality. Anomalous diffusion was included through an equivalent scattering frequency. Free space permittivity was increased to allow a coarser grid and longer time-step. A method for changing the ion to electron mass ratio and retrieving physical results was developed and used throughout. Results were compared with theory, experiments. Gradients and anisotropy in electron temperature were observed. Non-Maxwellian electron energy distribution functions were observed. The thruster was numerically redesigned; substantial performance benefits were predicted.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 372-375).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aeronautics and Astronautics.