Rotating Magnetic Field Thrusters
Rotating magnetic field (RMF) thrusters originate from the nuclear energy community where similar devices (field-reversed configuration, or FRC) are used to magnetically isolate and confine plasma for fusion purposes. In an FRC device, an azimuthal current is induced in a plasma (by rotating magnetic fields, for instance) in the presence of a steady axial magnetic field. The current reverses the axial field (hence the name “field-reversed”) which creates a well confined magnetically-isolated, high-density plasma body called a “plasmoid”. It is only in the last decade that this technology has been investigated for thruster applications. Thrust can be achieved via the repeated, rapid formation and ejection of plasmoids. In addition to achieving the high specific impulses characteristic of electric propulsion devices, RMF thrusters benefit from the plasma being magnetically isolated from the thruster hardware, thus limiting erosion. They can therefore also be used with a variety of propellants such as xenon, water, and carbon dioxide. Propellant flexibility is an attractive quality for missions employing in situ resource utilization (ISRU) technologies. There are several questions pertaining to the fundamental physics of rotating magnetic field thrusters. Currently at PEPL, there is an ongoing investigation of the scaling laws that govern thruster operation as well as an experimental campaign to characterize the primary channels for energy loss. Scaling laws provide valuable insight into how the thruster operates including how impulse and efficiency scale with input power and once the efficiency losses are understood these insights can be leveraged for improved thruster designs.
Circuit Modeling of Rotating Magnetic Field Field-reversed Configuration Thrusters
Woods, J. M., Jorns, B. A., and Gallimore, A.D.
Design of a 30-kW RMF-FRC Thruster
Sercel, C.L., Woods, J.M., Gill, T.M., Viges, E., Van Zanten, R.G., and Jorns, B.A.
Data-Driven Approach to Modeling and Development of a 30 kW Field-reversed Configuration Thruster
Woods, J.M., Sercel, C.L., Gill, T.M., Viges, E., and Jorns, B.A.
State-of-the-Art and Advancement Paths for Inductive Pulsed Plasma Thrusters
Polzin, Kurt; Martin, Adam; Little, Justin; Promislow, Curtis; Jorns, Benjamin; Woods, Joshua
Performance Measurements of a 60 kW Field-reversed Configuration Thruster
Joshua M. Woods , Christopher L. Sercel , Tate Gill and Benjamin Jorns
Scaling Laws for Rotating Magnetic Field-Driven Thrusters
Christopher L. Sercel , Joshua M. Woods , Tate Gill and Benjamin Jorns
Performance measurements of a 5 kW-class rotating magnetic field thruster
Christopher L. Sercel, Joshua M. Woods, Tate M. Gill, and Benjamin A. Jorns
Equivalent Circuit Model for a Rotating Magnetic Field Thruster
Joshua M. Woods, Christopher L. Sercel, Tate Gill and Benjamin Jorns
Experimental Characterization of Efficiency Modes in a Rotating Magnetic Field Thruster
Tate M. Gill, Christopher L. Sercel, Joshua M. Woods, and Benjamin A. Jorns
Experimental Investigation into Mechanisms for Energy Loss in a Rotating Magnetic Field Thruster
Tate M. Gill, Christopher L. Sercel, and Benjamin A. Jorns
Inductive Probe Measurements during Plasmoid Acceleration in an RMF Thruster
Christopher L. Sercel, Tate M. Gill, and Benjamin A. Jorns