Combustion in microscales have received extensive interest in the past decade due to up to 100 times higher energy densities of hydrocarbon fuels as compared with those of the conventional batteries. Thus, there has been increasing interest in utilizing the high energy of hydrocarbon fuels in portable power generation systems. One method of generating electricity from hydrocarbon fuels is to use the heat from their combustion to drive endothermic reactions. However, up to date, there is no extensive research done with liquid fuels for augmenting hydrogen production. Most of the research projects with liquid-fuel micro and meso-combustors were performed as a fuel-lean combustion for propulsion applications. This research project focuses on fuel-rich liquid combustion, which can be used for fuel cells, UAV applications, and other portable power generation systems.
Electric thrusters provide high propellant efficiency to give spacecraft the capability of large maneuvers at the cost of a low propellant mass. This project aims to design a compact helicon thruster of an optimized maximum thrust, exhaust velocity, and efficiency on a small scale that can be used for CubeSat applications and other small spacecraft missions. The main milestone of the project is to derive scaling laws that govern all possible design configurations of a wave-coupled helicon thruster. Analyses of plasma dynamics and various design parameters are reviewed as part of the design optimization scheme for the thruster.
Electric propulsion (EP) provides high propellant efficiency to give spacecraft the capability of large maneuvers at the cost of low propellant mass. This project aims to design a compact helicon thruster of maximum thrust, exhaust velocity, and efficiency on a small scale to be used for CubeSat applications and small spacecraft missions. Such thrusters output low impulse for use in CubeSats. Methods of calibration and measuring micronewton-to millinewton-level thrust are reviewed to produce high-quality thrust measurements. Analyses of plasma dynamics, such as verifying plasma generation and magnetic confinement, are discussed as a part of the optimization scheme of the thruster.