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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Carbon Nanotube Based Electric Propulsion Thruster with Low Power Consumption, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

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Carbon Nanotube Based Electric Propulsion Thruster with Low Power Consumption, Phase I
This SBIR project is to develop field emission electric propulsion (FEEP) thruster using carbon nanotubes (CNT) integrated anode. FEEP thrusters have gained considerable attention for spacecrafts disturbance compensation because of excellent characteristics. The application of current FEEP has been slow in developing mainly caused by high specific power, which limit the milli-Newton thruster development due to insufficient onboard power. Dramatic field improvement from nanometer CNTs is a big advantage to increase the FEEP thrust more than 10 times under constant specific impulse (power). The CNT based FEEP thruster with low specific power and stable long-term operation will meet spacecraft needs with micronewton to millinewton thrust capability. The new FEEP device will be constructed innovative in three aspects: (a) Integration of CNTs into the ion emission anode, (b) Structural combination from the metal tip emitter and the slit emitter, and (c) Selectable operating thrust units. In addition, a solid state thruster based on Cs intercalation with CNTs will also be investigated. The power consumption of the thruster will be reduced by a factor of 5 and more. The CNT ion emission design may also lead to the development of miniature ion source, benefiting ion source based analytical and material processing facilities. More »

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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.