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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion, Phase I
The proposed work seeks to develop and optimize an electrode-less plasma propulsion system that is based on a high power helicon (HPH) that is being developed collaboratively between MSNW and the University of Washington. The helicon is well suited for this task, as it is known for efficient production of high-density plasmas. The proposed system takes helicon research into an entirely unexplored regime of high power, moving from the traditional kW level discharges to tens and hundreds of kW. Preliminary results indicate that it has excellent potential for making an efficient propulsion system with an estimated thrust of about 1 N for 50 kWe. Higher thrust levels are expected with optimization of its operational characteristics, particularly the addition of a magnetic nozzle that will facilitate conversion of thermal energy into directed flow. Numerical modeling will be employed to understand the relevant physics, and help determine the optimal thruster configuration. Scaling studies will determine the power levels where HPH is competitive or surpasses other systems under consideration for NASA?s higher power missions. Based on results, a plan for the complete system design and test demonstration of the HPH to be realized in Phase II will be detailed. More »

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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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.