Enhanced Ionization of Propellant Through CNT Growth on Angled Walls

ENS Alfred Garvey, USN

Abstract: A benchmark to compare ion thrusters is the Mass Utilization Factor. The Mass Utilization Factor is the ratio of the ionization area to the total cross sectional area of the thruster and is proportional to the amount of propellant gas that is ionized to produce thrust; a higher MUF means greater thrust generated. Previous work has shown that the Mass Utilization Factor of a carbon nanotube coated angled nozzle is much higher in respect to a 2-dimensional configuration of the same. In other words, stacking concentric square rings of decreasing size would result in much more propellant being ionized than a thruster of constant width. In this thesis, several important benchmarks were set. First, building upon previous thesis work, and angled sidewall was etched into a silicon wafer, providing an equation that can be utilized to achieve different angles. Second, that etching process was able to be applied long enough to create a nozzle through the silicon wafer. Third, after successfully growing CNTs on the angled side walls of the nozzle, a Mass Utilization Factor was calculated from the etched nozzle. Lastly, a method for calculating an “ideal” MUF (based on current modelling) was fashioned to provide a baseline comparison to future laboratory testing.

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Jul 07, 2017

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