Author

Ethan Hopping

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)

Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Kunning G. Xu

Committee Member

Robert A. Frederick Jr.

Committee Member

Jason T. Cassibry

Subject(s)

Hall effect devices--Design., Hall effect devices--Testing., Colloid thrusters., Three-dimensional printing.

Abstract

The UAH-78AM is a low-power Hall effect thruster developed at the University of Alabama in Huntsville to study the application of low-cost additive manufacturing in the design and fabrication of Hall thrusters. The goal of this project is to assess the feasibility of using unconventional materials to produce a low-cost functioning Hall effect thruster and consider how additive manufacturing can expand the design space and provide other benefits. The thruster features channel walls and a propellant distributor that were manufactured using 3D printing with a variety of materials including ABS, ULTEM, and glazed ceramic. A version of the thruster was tested at NASA Glenn Research Center to obtain performance metrics and to validate the ability of the thruster to produce thrust and sustain a discharge. The design of the thruster and the transient performance measurements are presented here. Measured thrust ranged from 17.2 mN to 30.4 mN over a discharge power of 280 W to 520 W with an anode Isp range of 870 s to 1450 s. Temperature limitations of materials used for the channel walls and propellant distributor limit the ability to run the thruster at thermal steady-state. While the current thruster design is not yet ready for continuous operation, revisions to the device that could enable longer duration tests are discussed.

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