How to make an ion propulsion engine

how to make an ion propulsion engine

Ion thruster

Jul 19,  · Use my referral link to receive 1, free Supercharger miles with the purchase and delivery of a new Tesla car, or earn a $ award after system activation. To make the Ionic thruster you will require some high voltage sources like the Tesla coil, induction coil, automotive ignition coil with a driver, etc. here I am using a module that is capable of providing around 40kV of voltage.

It uses electricity to produce a stream of charged ions exiting 10 times faster than chemical rocket exhaust. Franklin Chang Diaz, estimates a two-year round trip to Mars could be cut to 39 days using propklsion ion engines. The journey of million miles begins with a single ion. Our websites use cookies to improve your browsing experience. How do i download ringtones to my iphone 5 of these are essential for the basic functionalities of our websites.

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Step 1: How It Works:

In ion thrusters, plasma is made up of positive ions and an equal amount of electrons. NASA's conventional method of producing ions is called electron bombardment. The propellant is injected into the ionization chamber from the downstream end of the thruster and flows toward the upstream end.

An ion thruster , ion drive , or ion engine is a form of electric propulsion used for spacecraft propulsion. It creates thrust by accelerating ions using electricity. An ion thruster ionizes a neutral gas by extracting some electrons out of atoms , creating a cloud of positive ions. These ion thrusters rely mainly on electrostatics as ions are accelerated by the Coulomb force along an electric field. Temporarily stored electrons are finally reinjected by a neutralizer in the cloud of ions after it has passed through the electrostatic grid, so the gas becomes neutral again and can freely disperse in space without any further electrical interaction with the thruster.

In contrast, electromagnetic thrusters use the Lorentz force to accelerate all species free electrons as well as positive and negative ions in the same direction whatever their electric charge , and are specifically referred to as plasma propulsion engines , where the electric field is not in the direction of the acceleration.

The Deep Space 1 spacecraft, powered by an ion thruster, changed velocity by 4. The Dawn spacecraft broke the record, with a velocity change of Applications include control of the orientation and position of orbiting satellites some satellites have dozens of low-power ion thrusters and use as a main propulsion engine for low-mass robotic space vehicles such as Deep Space 1 and Dawn. Ion thrust engines are practical only in the vacuum of space and cannot take vehicles through the atmosphere because ion engines do not work in the presence of ions outside the engine; additionally, the engine's minuscule thrust cannot overcome any significant air resistance.

Moreover, notwithstanding the presence of an atmosphere or lack thereof an ion engine cannot generate sufficient thrust to achieve initial liftoff from any celestial body with significant surface gravity.

For these reasons, spacecraft must rely on conventional chemical rockets to reach their initial orbit. The first person who wrote a paper introducing the idea publicly was Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in The idea appeared again in Hermann Oberth 's " Wege zur Raumschiffahrt " Ways to Spaceflight , published in , where he explained his thoughts on the mass savings of electric propulsion, predicted its use in spacecraft propulsion and attitude control , and advocated electrostatic acceleration of charged gasses.

A working ion thruster was built by Harold R. It was similar to a gridded electrostatic ion thruster and used mercury for propellant. Suborbital tests were conducted during the s and in , the engine was sent into a suborbital flight aboard the Space Electric Rocket Test-1 SERT An alternate form of electric propulsion, the Hall effect thruster , was studied independently in the United States and the Soviet Union in the s and s.

Hall effect thrusters operated on Soviet satellites from until the late s, mainly used for satellite stabilization in north—south and in east—west directions.

Some — engines completed missions on Soviet and Russian satellites. Ion thrusters use beams of ions electrically charged atoms or molecules to create thrust in accordance with momentum conservation. This ratio means that relatively small potential differences can create high exhaust velocities.

This reduces the amount of reaction mass or propellant required, but increases the amount of specific power required compared to chemical rockets. Ion thrusters are therefore able to achieve high specific impulses.

The drawback of the low thrust is low acceleration because the mass of the electric power unit directly correlates with the amount of power. This low thrust makes ion thrusters unsuited for launching spacecraft into orbit, but effective for in-space propulsion. Ion thrusters are categorized as either electrostatic or electromagnetic. The main difference is the method for accelerating the ions.

Electric power for ion thrusters are usually provided by solar panels. However, for sufficiently large distances from the sun, nuclear power may be used. In each case, the power supply mass is proportional to the peak power that can be supplied, and both provide, for this application, almost no limit to the energy. Electric thrusters tend to produce low thrust, which results in low acceleration.

However, this acceleration can be sustained for months or years at a time, in contrast to the very short burns of chemical rockets. The ion thruster is not the most promising type of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion , but it is the most successful in practice to date. The technical characteristics, especially thrust , are considerably inferior to the prototypes described in literature, [3] [4] technical capabilities are limited by the space charge created by ions. This limits the thrust density force per cross-sectional area of the engine.

The power imparted to the exhaust increases with the square of exhaust velocity while thrust increase is linear. Conversely, chemical rockets provide high thrust, but are limited in total impulse by the small amount of energy that can be stored chemically in the propellants. However, since they operate as electric or electrostatic motors, they convert a greater fraction of input power into kinetic exhaust power. Chemical rockets operate as heat engines , and Carnot's theorem limits the exhaust velocity.

Gridded electrostatic ion thrusters commonly utilize xenon gas. The gaseous propellant begins with no charge; it is ionized by bombarding it with energetic electrons, as the energy transferred ejects valence electrons from the propellant gas's atoms.

These electrons can be provided by a hot cathode filament and accelerated through the potential difference towards an anode. Alternatively, the electrons can be accelerated by an oscillating induced electric field created by an alternating electromagnet, which results in a self-sustaining discharge without a cathode radio frequency ion thruster.

The positively charged ions are extracted by a system consisting of 2 or 3 multi-aperture grids. After entering the grid system near the plasma sheath, the ions are accelerated by the potential difference between the first grid and second grid called the screen grid and the accelerator grid, respectively to the final ion energy of typically 1—2 keV, which generates thrust. Ion thrusters emit a beam of positively charged xenon ions. To keep the spacecraft from accumulating a charge, another cathode is placed near the engine to emit electrons into the ion beam, leaving the propellant electrically neutral.

This prevents the beam of ions from being attracted and returning to the spacecraft, which would cancel the thrust. Hall effect thrusters accelerate ions by means of an electric potential between a cylindrical anode and a negatively charged plasma that forms the cathode.

The bulk of the propellant typically xenon is introduced near the anode, where it ionizes and flows toward the cathode; ions accelerate towards and through it, picking up electrons as they leave to neutralize the beam and leave the thruster at high velocity. The anode is at one end of a cylindrical tube. In the center is a spike that is wound to produce a radial magnetic field between it and the surrounding tube.

The ions are largely unaffected by the magnetic field, since they are too massive. However, the electrons produced near the end of the spike to create the cathode are trapped by the magnetic field and held in place by their attraction to the anode.

Some of the electrons spiral down towards the anode, circulating around the spike in a Hall current. When they reach the anode they impact the uncharged propellant and cause it to be ionized, before finally reaching the anode and closing the circuit.

Field-emission electric propulsion FEEP thrusters may use caesium or indium propellants. The design comprises a small propellant reservoir that stores the liquid metal, a narrow tube or a system of parallel plates that the liquid flows through and an accelerator a ring or an elongated aperture in a metallic plate about a millimeter past the tube end.

Caesium and indium are used due to their high atomic weights, low ionization potentials and low melting points. Once the liquid metal reaches the end of the tube, an electric field applied between the emitter and the accelerator causes the liquid surface to deform into a series of protruding cusps, or Taylor cones.

At a sufficiently high applied voltage, positive ions are extracted from the tips of the cones. An external source of electrons neutralizes the positively charged ion stream to prevent charging of the spacecraft. Pulsed inductive thrusters PIT use pulses instead of continuous thrust and have the ability to run on power levels on the order of megawatts MW. PITs consist of a large coil encircling a cone shaped tube that emits the propellant gas.

Ammonia is the gas commonly used. For each pulse, a large charge builds up in a group of capacitors behind the coil and is then released. The current then creates a magnetic field in the outward radial direction Br , which then creates a current in the gas that has just been released in the opposite direction of the original current. This opposite current ionizes the ammonia. Hydrogen , argon , ammonia and nitrogen can be used as propellant. In a certain configuration, the ambient gas in low Earth orbit LEO can be used as a propellant.

The gas enters the main chamber where it is ionized into plasma by the electric field between the anode and the cathode. This plasma then conducts electricity between the anode and the cathode, closing the circuit. This new current creates a magnetic field around the cathode, which crosses with the electric field, thereby accelerating the plasma due to the Lorentz force. First, the LiLFA uses lithium vapor, which can be stored as a solid. The other difference is that the single cathode is replaced by multiple, smaller cathode rods packed into a hollow cathode tube.

MPD cathodes are easily corroded due to constant contact with the plasma. The plasma is then accelerated using the same Lorentz force. Electrodeless plasma thrusters have two unique features: the removal of the anode and cathode electrodes and the ability to throttle the engine.

The removal of the electrodes eliminates erosion, which limits lifetime on other ion engines. Neutral gas is first ionized by electromagnetic waves and then transferred to another chamber where it is accelerated by an oscillating electric and magnetic field, also known as the ponderomotive force. This separation of the ionization and acceleration stages allows throttling of propellant flow, which then changes the thrust magnitude and specific impulse values.

A helicon double layer thruster is a type of plasma thruster that ejects high velocity ionized gas to provide thrust. In this design, gas is injected into a tubular chamber the source tube with one open end. Radio frequency AC power at The electromagnetic wave emitted by the antenna causes the gas to break down and form a plasma.

The antenna then excites a helicon wave in the plasma, which further heats it. The device has a roughly constant magnetic field in the source tube supplied by solenoids in the prototype , but the magnetic field diverges and rapidly decreases in magnitude away from the source region and might be thought of as a kind of magnetic nozzle.

In operation, a sharp boundary separates the high density plasma inside the source region and the low density plasma in the exhaust, which is associated with a sharp change in electrical potential. Plasma properties change rapidly across this boundary, which is known as a current-free electric double layer.

The electrical potential is much higher inside the source region than in the exhaust and this serves both to confine most of the electrons and to accelerate the ions away from the source region.

Enough electrons escape the source region to ensure that the plasma in the exhaust is neutral overall. The proposed Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket VASIMR functions by using radio waves to ionize a propellant into a plasma and then using magnetic field to accelerate the plasma out of the back of the rocket engine to generate thrust. Some of the components and "plasma shoots" experiments are tested in a laboratory settled in Liberia, Costa Rica. In the discharge chamber, microwave MW energy flows into the center containing a high level of ions I , causing neutral species in the gaseous propellant to ionize.

Meanwhile, energy is lost to the chamber walls through heat conduction and convection HCC , along with radiation Rad. The remaining energy absorbed into the gaseous propellant is converted into thrust. A neutralising electron gun would produce a tiny amount thrust with high specific impulse in the order of millions of seconds due to the high relativistic speed of alpha particles.

A variant of this uses a graphite-based grid with a static DC high voltage to increase thrust as graphite has high transparency to alpha particles if it is also irradiated with short wave UV light at the correct wavelength from a solid state emitter.

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