High Specific Power Electric Propulsion
Agency / Branch:
DOD / DARPA
A new thruster technology, the Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) thruster, has been designed and tested at MSNW that has the capability to address the demanding combined requirements of high specific power, high efficiency, a large Isp range, and T/P in a single, lightweight device. The ELF thruster creates a high-density, magnetized plasma known as a Field Reversed Configuration using Rotating Magnetic Field formation. Coupled with an applied bias field gradient, the resulting JxB force accelerates the propellant to high velocity. The program goal of the ELF research was to characterize a thruster concept possessing the potential to surpass all current electric propulsion systems in efficiency, power, and operational variability. Based on current laboratory results, ELF would enable a range of high-power propulsion missions in the 10-100 kW class. The ELF thruster technology has been demonstrated to have a wide range of specific impulse (1,000-6,000) at high efficiency and operate on many propellants. Additionally, its pulsed nature inherently enables dramatic (expected up to 1000:1) power throttling while maintaining the optimal specific impulse, efficiency, and operational conditions. Proposed is a program to design, test, and optimize a highly-throttleable, full-scale 30-50 kW ELF thruster operating in a steady-state configuration.
Small Business Information at Submission:
8551 154th Ave NE Redmond, WA 98052
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