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Catalyst-Free, Highly-Throttleable, Electric Propulsion Thruster

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Catalyst-Free, Highly-Throttleable, Electric Propulsion Thruster
Agency: DOD
Contract: FA9300-10-C-2101
Award Amount: $745,513.00


The future of monopropellant thrusters is moving towards high performance green propellants based on hydroxyammonium nitrate (HAN) and ammonium dinitramide (ADN). Ideally, a multimode propulsion system will include a higher specific impulse thruster for maneuvers that require propellant conservation to complement a higher thrust chemical thruster, with both thrusters utilizing the same propellant. We propose to develop an electric thruster that operates on almost any monopropellant, while maintaining high performance over a wide range of operation. The key to success is the elimination of the catalyst bed, shown to be a hindrance for both high performance (HAN, ADN) chemical thrusters and electric propulsion. Elimination of the cat bed should also increase the throttling capabilities of the electric propulsion engine. This catalyst-free thruster will also overcome thermal and life issues of the catalyst bed and allow for utilization of almost any propellant imagined. In Phase I we successfully demonstrated the operation of our electrically catalyzed thruster operating on a surrogate monopropellant. Key technical challenges for Phase II include the liquid propellant injector and feed system. We have organized a well thought-out plan to attack and solve these issues early in the development, culminating in a complete green propellant electrothermal thruster system. BENEFIT: The US Military has a current requirement for multimode propulsion. Successful development of an electric propulsion thruster operating on a chemical monopropellant satisfies the need for higher specific impulse thruster to complete the multimode propulsion concept. In addition, any spacecraft that requires high delta-v could benefit from such a thruster. Non space propulsion applications include chemical processing and gas generators for aircraft APUs.

Principal Investigator:

Kurt Hohman
Director, Electrothermal
(508) 655-5565

Business Contact:

Judy Budny
Contracts Administrator
(508) 655-5565
Small Business Information at Submission:

Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA -

EIN/Tax ID: 042881247
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No