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Plasma oscillations and associated electron transport within hall thrusters

Knoll, AK (2010) Plasma oscillations and associated electron transport within hall thrusters UNSPECIFIED thesis, University of Surrey.

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The Hall thruster is a type of plasma propulsion system for space vehicle applications. The thrust produced by this device is derived from the momentum of ions, which are accelerated to high exit velocities by the action of an electric field sustained within the plasma. The advantage of the Hall thruster compared to conventional chemical rocket propulsion is a significantly higher exhaust velocity, which leads to better utilization of propellant mass. Since the early days of Hall thruster research, experiments have suggested that the mobility of electrons along the axis of the thruster, perpendicular to an imposed magnetic field, is higher than can be explained by classical collision transfer processes alone. A lack of understanding regarding the mechanism for this enhanced mobility has proved a significant challenge toward the development of reliable simulations capable of predicting the performance of these devices. This thesis examines the role of high frequency plasma oscillations on the electron mobility using a combination of experimental studies on a laboratory Hall thruster, and numerical simulations capable of capturing these oscillations and quantifying their impact on the electron mobility. Two high frequency oscillations were consistently observed in the experiments: a 10MHz mode which appeared strongest in the vicinity of the anode, and a 4.5MHz mode which was strongest in the mid-channel region of the thruster. These were relatively low wave number (long wavelength) oscillations: approximately 6cm for the 4.5MHz oscillation and 3cm for the 10MHz oscillation. The angle of these waves varied considerably depending on the operating conditions of the thruster. They were found to be closely aligned to the axis of the thruster for experiments conducted with Xenon propellant, and were aligned with the circumference of the thruster (in the direction of electron drift) for experiments conducted with Krypton. A Hall thruster simulation, formulated in the axial-azimuthal coordinates of the thruster, was able to capture high frequency oscillations in reasonable agreement with experimental findings: 13MHz near the anode and 5MHz in the mid-channel region of the thruster for 160V discharge conditions. The simulation results demonstrated the crucial role of these oscillations in regulating the electron transport. In the vicinity of these oscillations the electron mobility was increased by a factor of five or more. The central finding of this thesis is that high frequency oscillations in the range 1 - 50MHz can account for the observed discrepancy between classical and experimental electron mobility in the Hall thruster.

Item Type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Date : 2010
Contributors :
thesis_supervisorCappelli, M
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 17 May 2017 12:21
Last Modified : 23 Jan 2020 11:03

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