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Center Innovation Fund: GSFC CIF

Decomposing Nitrous Oxide Thruster using Dielectric Barrier Discharge

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

One of NASA's Grand Challenges is to design more efficient propulsion systems. The decomposing nitrous thruster with a dielectric barrier discharge is only one step away from the simplicity of cold gas thrusters, yet offers a theoretical Isp of 200 seconds – closer to the performance of monopropellant technologies.

The University of Maryland is proposing to use a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) as a means to dissociate N2O. DBD uses alternating high voltage differences between two electrodes to create strong electric fields. One or both of the electrodes is covered in a dielectric, and a gap in between allows gas to pass through. Nitrous Oxide sent through the gap between the electrodes has its free electrons accelerated by the large E-field, and in the process the electrons collide with N2O molecules.

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.

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