Excellence in Research and Innovation for Humanity

International Science Index

Commenced in January 1999 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Paper Count: 3

3
10006189
A Xenon Mass Gauging through Heat Transfer Modeling for Electric Propulsion Thrusters
Abstract:

The current state-of-the-art methods of mass gauging of Electric Propulsion (EP) propellants in microgravity conditions rely on external measurements that are taken at the surface of the tank. The tanks are operated under a constant thermal duty cycle to store the propellant within a pre-defined temperature and pressure range. We demonstrate using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations that the heat-transfer within the pressurized propellant generates temperature and density anisotropies. This challenges the standard mass gauging methods that rely on the use of time changing skin-temperatures and pressures. We observe that the domes of the tanks are prone to be overheated, and that a long time after the heaters of the thermal cycle are switched off, the system reaches a quasi-equilibrium state with a more uniform density. We propose a new gauging method, which we call the Improved PVT method, based on universal physics and thermodynamics principles, existing TRL-9 technology and telemetry data. This method only uses as inputs the temperature and pressure readings of sensors externally attached to the tank. These sensors can operate during the nominal thermal duty cycle. The improved PVT method shows little sensitivity to the pressure sensor drifts which are critical towards the end-of-life of the missions, as well as little sensitivity to systematic temperature errors. The retrieval method has been validated experimentally with CO2 in gas and fluid state in a chamber that operates up to 82 bar within a nominal thermal cycle of 38 °C to 42 °C. The mass gauging error is shown to be lower than 1% the mass at the beginning of life, assuming an initial tank load at 100 bar. In particular, for a pressure of about 70 bar, just below the critical pressure of CO2, the error of the mass gauging in gas phase goes down to 0.1% and for 77 bar, just above the critical point, the error of the mass gauging of the liquid phase is 0.6% of initial tank load. This gauging method improves by a factor of 8 the accuracy of the standard PVT retrievals using look-up tables with tabulated data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

2
5531
Direct Measurement of Electromagnetic Thrust of Electrodeless Helicon Plasma Thruster Using Magnetic Nozzle
Abstract:
In order to realize long-lived electric propulsion systems, we have been investigating an electrodeless plasma thruster. In our concept, a helicon plasma is accelerated by the magnetic nozzle for the thrusts production. In addition, the electromagnetic thrust can be enhanced by the additional radio-frequency rotating electric field (REF) power in the magnetic nozzle. In this study, a direct measurement of the electromagnetic thrust and a probe measurement have been conducted using a laboratory model of the thruster under the condition without the REF power input. Fromthrust measurement, it is shown that the thruster produces a sub-milli-newton order electromagnetic thrust force without the additional REF power. The thrust force and the density jump are observed due to the discharge mode transition from the inductive coupled plasma to the helicon wave excited plasma. The thermal thrust is theoretically estimated, and the total thrust force, which is a sum of the electromagnetic and the thermal thrust force and specific impulse are calculated to be up to 650 μN (plasma production power of 400 W, Ar gas mass flow rate of 1.0 mg/s) and 210 s (plasma production power of 400 W, Ar gas mass flow rate of 0.2 mg/s), respectively.
1
626
Study on Plasma Creation and Propagation in a Pulsed Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster
Abstract:
The performance and the plasma created by a pulsed magnetoplasmadynamic thruster for small satellite application is studied to understand better the ablation and plasma propagation processes occurring during the short-time discharge. The results can be applied to improve the quality of the thruster in terms of efficiency, and to tune the propulsion system to the needs required by the satellite mission. Therefore, plasma measurements with a high-speed camera and induction probes, and performance measurements of mass bit and impulse bit were conducted. Values for current sheet propagation speed, mean exhaust velocity and thrust efficiency were derived from these experimental data. A maximum in current sheet propagation was found by the high-speed camera measurements for a medium energy input and confirmed by the induction probes. A quasilinear tendency between the mass bit and the energy input, the current action integral respectively, was found, as well as a linear tendency between the created impulse and the discharge energy. The highest mean exhaust velocity and thrust efficiency was found for the highest energy input.
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