Catalyst-Free, Highly-Throttleable, Electric Propulsion Thruster

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9300-10-C-2101
Agency Tracking Number: F081-065-0906
Amount: $745,513.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: AF081-065
Solicitation Number: 2008.1
Small Business Information
Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, -
DUNS: 184629491
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Kurt Hohman
 Director, Electrothermal
 (508) 655-5565
Business Contact
 Judy Budny
Title: Contracts Administrator
Phone: (508) 655-5565
Research Institution
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.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government