A new dual-fluid concept was studied that could eventually find application for cold-gas propulsion for small space satellites or other constant flow applications. In basic form, the concept uses two different refrigerant working fluids, each having a different saturation vapor pressure. The higher vapor pressure refrigerant remains in the saturation phase and is used to pressurize the lower saturation vapor pressure fluid (the propellant) which remains in the compressed liquid phase. A demonstration thruster concept based on this principle was designed and built to study its operating characteristics. An automotive-type electronic fuel injector was used to meter and deliver the propellant. Ejected propellant mass and momentum were measured for several combinations of refrigerants and hydrocarbon fluids. The thruster has the advantage of delivering relatively large total impulse at low tank pressure within a small volume.
Silicon substrates coated with multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were experimentally investigated to determine spark breakdown voltages relative to uncoated surfaces, the degree of surface degradation associated with the spark discharge, and techniques to minimize the surface degradation. The results may be applicable to instruments or processes that use MWCNT as a means of increasing local electric field strength and where spark breakdown is a possibility that might affect the devices’ performance or longevity. MWCNTs were shown to reduce the breakdown voltage of a 1mm gap in air by 30-50%. The relative decrease in breakdown voltage was maintained over gap distances of 0.5 to 2mm and gauge pressures of 0 to 4 bar. Degradation of the MWCNT coated surfaces was observed. Several techniques to improve durability were investigated. These included: chromium and gold-palladium coatings, tube annealing, and embedding clusters of MWCNT in a ceramic matrix.