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Title: Helicon plasma thruster discharge model

By considering particle, momentum, and energy balance equations, we develop a semi-empirical quasi one-dimensional analytical discharge model of radio-frequency and helicon plasma thrusters. The model, which includes both the upstream plasma source region as well as the downstream diverging magnetic nozzle region, is compared with experimental measurements and confirms current performance levels. Analysis of the discharge model identifies plasma power losses on the radial and back wall of the thruster as the major performance reduction factors. These losses serve as sinks for the input power which do not contribute to the thrust, and which reduce the maximum plasma density and hence propellant utilization. With significant radial plasma losses eliminated, the discharge model (with argon) predicts specific impulses in excess of 3000 s, propellant utilizations above 90%, and thruster efficiencies of about 30%.
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, Univ Paris-Sud, Ecole Polytechnique, 91128 Palaiseau, France and ONERA - The French Aerospace Lab, 91120 Palaiseau (France)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22252971
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physics of Plasmas; Journal Volume: 21; Journal Issue: 4; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY; ARGON; EFFICIENCY; EQUATIONS; NOZZLES; PERFORMANCE; PLASMA DENSITY; POWER LOSSES; RADIOWAVE RADIATION; THRUSTERS