Chinese Space Science and Technology ›› 2018, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (5): 38-45.doi: 10.16708/j.cnki.1000-758X.2018.0055

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The energy distribution mechanism in an ablative pulsed plasma thruster

HUANG Tiankun1,2,*, WU Zhiwen3, ZHU Kangwu1,2, YU Xuewen1,2, WANG Jinhai1,2   

  1. 1Shanghai Aerospace Control Technology Institute, Shanghai 201109, China
    2Shanghai Key Laboratory of Aerospace Intelligent Control Technology, Shanghai 201109, China
    3Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2018-03-01 Revised:2018-08-11 Published:2018-10-25 Online:2018-08-29

Abstract: Pulsed plasma thrusters ( PPTs) have been criticized for their low efficiency over long time periods. However, few studies were about the PPT energy distribution mechanism which is very important for providing references for the designs of highperformance PPTs. In this paper, a parallelplate ablative pulsed plasma thruster was studied. The voltage, current and ablated mass of the PPT were measured under four different discharge energies. The propulsion performance of the PPT was estimated by the experimental data. In addition, a numerical model was established and used to calculate propellant utilization of a PPT. The results show that the low efficiency of PPTs comes form their low energy utilization and low propellant utilization. As the discharge energy increases, the PPT efficiency and energy utilization increase from 5.07% to 16.5% and from 2.88% to 5.23%, respectively. However, the propellant utilization decreases from 56.8% to 31.8% as the discharge energy increases.

Key words: pulsed plasma thruster, efficiency, energy distribution, experimental study, numerical simulation