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SBIR/STTR

High Performance Iodine Feed System, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The proposed innovation is an advanced iodine feed system for Hall Effect Thrusters (HETs), ion engines, cathodes, and other plasma generators. This feed system features a low mass plastic propellant tank that may be manufactured through additive processes. This allows low cost, complex shapes that can maximize the use of available space inside the spacecraft. The feed system also features an innovative piezo valve that will save volume, mass, cost, and energy with respect to the state of the art alternative for iodine. Iodine stores as a solid and sublimates as the molecule I2, which allows many benefits with respect to traditional Hall Effect Thruster fuels such as xenon and krypton. These advantages include higher storage density, lower storage pressure, the ability to test high power systems at space-relevant conditions in modest facilities, the capability to store propellant in space without active regulation, and the capacity to transfer propellant at low pressure conditions in space. In a space-limited spacecraft, the use of iodine instead of state of the art xenon could increase available delta V by a factor of 3 or more. Iodine is especially beneficial for small CubeSat sized spacecraft. In Phase I, Busek will design a feed system featuring the new, advanced components. The system will then be demonstrated with an iodine fueled thruster in space relevant conditions. In Phase II, an improved feed system will be designed, built and tested. More »

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