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Advanced Microwave Electrothermal Thruster for Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion (AMET-DMWRP)

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9300-09-M-3001
Agency Tracking Number: F081-065-0073
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF081-065
Solicitation Number: 2008.1
Solicitation Year: 2008
Award Year: 2009
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2009-01-29
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2009-10-26
Small Business Information
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive, Madison, WI, 53717
DUNS: 196894869
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Chris St. Clair
 Principal Aerospace Engin
 (608) 229-2727
Business Contact
 Eric Rice
Title: President and CEO
Phone: (608) 229-2730
Research Institution
ORBITEC proposes to develop the Advanced Microwave Electrothermal Thruster (AMET) for use as one of the primary thrusters in the Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion system.  The AMET uses an electrodeless microwave discharge to produce thrust from water vapor propellant, delivering specific impulse in excess of 800 seconds with a highly efficient process.  Microwave energy is introduced to a resonant chamber via an antenna; the microwave energy is refocused by the chamber at a location immediately upstream of the nozzle.  Water vapor (steam) propellant is tangentially injected into the aft (left) half of the resonant chamber, and swirls inward towards the nozzle.  A plasma discharge in the water vapor is established at the focal point adjacent to the nozzle, facilitating the transfer of energy from the oscillating microwave energy to the water vapor prior to its expulsion from the nozzle to produce thrust.  Microwave electrothermal technology is the only known option for delivering high Isp (over 500 seconds) from water.   BENEFIT: Taken by itself, the AMET is an attractive propulsion technology in its own right.  In the context of the integrated Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion system, it becomes even more appealing when compared to currently available in-space propulsion technologies, with the advantages of mission flexibility, high performance, and zero toxicity.  ORBITEC foresees the DoD as being the first key customer to use DMWRP systems, which will be applicable for most orbiting vehicles with significant in-space propulsion requirements.  Once the technology has been demonstrated, ORBITEC intends to broaden its marketing efforts to include both commercial and NASA customers.)

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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