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More Efficient Electric Propulsion Via Reduced Mass of Xenon Propelant
Phone: (407) 631-3550
This Phase I project will determine the feasibility of developing a xenon propellant storage system for an electric propulsion engine that offers significant reductions in mass, volume, and storage pressure over the compressed vapor storage currently used. Electric propulsion systems utilizing xenon propellant provide a desirable alternative to other electric propulsion designs for orbital maintenance and transfer, due to higher efficiencies and thrust to power ratios. However, the current compressed storage pressure is 3000 psi, requiring high strength, high mass containers. Currently, the container is 15% of the combined xenon and container mass (for storage of 50 kg of xenon). Storage of xenon in the liquid or two-phase (liquid and vapor) state will reduce high pressure storage dangers by a factor of 20r system mass by as much as 16%, and storage volume by as much as 23%. Phase I of the research will design this system. Overall efficiency and performance of the electric propulsion unit will be improved. Preliminary Phase I testing will include a proof-of-concept demonstration. Phase II will include design optimization, construction, and testing of the lighter, smaller, safer storage system. The potential applications for this storage system are numerous. The use of xenon propellant in Hall thrusters and ion engines is fast becoming a competitive component of space exploration, station keeping and orbit transfers. The low pressure, low mass storage system proposed here will reduce costs and provide for the advancement of electric propulsion technologies in commercial and military.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *