Date of Award
Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Kunning G. Xu
Robert A. Frederick Jr.
Jason T. Cassibry
Hall effect devices--Design., Hall effect devices--Testing., Colloid thrusters., Three-dimensional printing.
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.
Hopping, Ethan, "Design and testing of a Hall effect thruster with additively manufactured components" (2017). Theses. 225.