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Title:Investigation of the GEM MPD thruster using the MACH2 magnetohydrodynamics code
Author(s):Ahern, Drew
Advisor(s):Burton, Rodney L.
Department / Program:Aerospace Engineering
Discipline:Aerospace Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):electric propulsion
magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD)
gallium electromagnetic (GEM) thruster
Multiblock Arbitrary Coordinate Hydromagnetic 2 (MACH2)
Abstract:This work investigated using the MACH2 plasma simulation code in replicating the results of previous experimental work on the gallium electromagnetic (GEM) thruster. MACH2 was also used to examine possible changes to the GEM thruster that could improve the performance of the actual thruster. Thruster radius ratios of 3.4 and 5 were examined, and a mass flow rate of 6 g/s was specified for each. In this study, several properties were examined and compared with the experimental GEM thruster. A voltage of 148 V was computed for the GEM thruster with a radius ratio of 3.4, and a voltage of 222 V was computed for a thruster with a radius ratio of 5. Electron density and axial velocity values were analyzed and compared with experimental data. The simulated magnetic field near the cathode was shown to be very close to experimental measurements. Pressure simulation results were assessed, which indicated the presence of an electrothermal thrust component. Temperatures were observed and compared, and the electrical conductivity was examined. A momentum flow rate parameter was derived to examine thrust values, and results of 124 N and 131 N with thruster efficiencies of 38% and 28% were calculated for the radius ratios of 3.4 and 5, respectively. Additionally, plasma heating was found to dominate in the region near the cathode surface.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Drew Ahern
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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