Physics and performance of the Alternative Low Power Hybrid Ion Engine (ALPHIE) for space propulsion

Conde Lopez, Luis and Gonzalez Muñoz, Jorge and Domenech Garret, Juan Luis and Damba, Julius and Maldonado, Pablo. E and Grabulosa, Jaume and Lahoz, M. D. (2019). Physics and performance of the Alternative Low Power Hybrid Ion Engine (ALPHIE) for space propulsion. In: "36th International Electric Propulsion Conference IEPC19", 15-20 dic, Viena, Austria.

Description

Title: Physics and performance of the Alternative Low Power Hybrid Ion Engine (ALPHIE) for space propulsion
Author/s:
  • Conde Lopez, Luis
  • Gonzalez Muñoz, Jorge
  • Domenech Garret, Juan Luis
  • Damba, Julius
  • Maldonado, Pablo. E
  • Grabulosa, Jaume
  • Lahoz, M. D.
Item Type: Presentation at Congress or Conference (Article)
Event Title: 36th International Electric Propulsion Conference IEPC19
Event Dates: 15-20 dic
Event Location: Viena, Austria
Title of Book: 36th International Electric Propulsion Conference IEPC19
Date: 2019
Subjects:
Faculty: E.T.S. de Ingeniería Aeronáutica y del Espacio (UPM)
Department: Física Aplicada a las Ingenierías Aeronáutica y Naval
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Abstract

The current status and performance of the ALPHIE plasma thruster is discussed. This new concept was the subject of two recently granted patents and is radically different from conventional (Kauffman) gridded ion engines. Since it makes use of three DC power supplies and only one electron-emitting cathode disposed outside the plasma chamber, its power processing unit has low requisites. This electron emission is employed for both ionization and neutralization of the ion beam. Contrary to usual ion engines where only ions flow through the grids, in this case ionizing electrons and supersonic ions counterflow through the open spaces of a two-grid system. The performance of this plasma thruster was determined using both laboratory tests and particle-in-cell numerical simulations which confirmed the basic physical principles of the ion acceleration process. Laboratory experiments under realistic conditions show the ALPHIE thruster to produce supersonic Argon plasma flows with peak speeds of 37-44 km/s and therefore specific impulses in the range 3700-4400 s−1 . Additionally, ALPHIE delivers 1-3.5 mN throtteable thrusts using a maximum 325 W peak power, all of which were directly measured in the laboratory. These performances make ALPHIE suitable for station keeping, flight formation and end-of-life disposal of small and medium sized satellites.

Funding Projects

TypeCodeAcronymLeaderTitle
Government of SpainRT2018-094409-B-100UnspecifiedUnspecifiedCaracterización de los chorros de plasma y el empuje producidos por motores por plasma híbridos de baja potencia para propulsión espacial

More information

Item ID: 58699
DC Identifier: https://oa.upm.es/58699/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:58699
Deposited by: Memoria Investigacion
Deposited on: 19 Feb 2021 08:29
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2021 08:29
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