Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Jim Browning, Ph.D.
Wan Kuang, Ph.D.
Don Plumlee, Ph.D., P.E.
The performance of a 2 cm miniature ion thruster was analyzed. A thruster of this size was predicted to produce a thrust of 200 μN. The plasma density was measured against rf input power and propellant flow rate for three configurations: the ICP source by itself; the ICP source with discharge chamber; and finally, the ICP source, the discharge chamber, and the permanent magnet cusp system. Once the optimum case was determined, electrostatic grids were added and thrust measurements were taken with a set of segmented ion collector plates.
The miniature rf ion thruster obtained a thrust of 22.35 μN and a specific impulse of 15.31 s at its optimum operating condition of 5W of rf power and and propellant flow rate of 5 sccm. With a beam divergence angle of 26.25 degrees and the assumption of a singly charged ion species, the total thrust correction factor was 0.90. The mass utilization efficiency of the thruster was calculated to be 0.24%. The electrical efficiency of thruster was calculated to be 16.94% with an electron-ion energy pair cost of 5.9 keV/ion. The total efficiency of the thruster was 0.033%, a factor of 1000 too low for practical use.
Bumbarger, Peter Paul, "Analysis of a Miniature Radio Frequency Ion Thruster with an Inductively Coupled Plasma Source" (2013). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 782.