Electrodeless Lorentz Force Thruster for High-Power Propulsion

Period of Performance: 11/02/2007 - 11/02/2009

$750K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Msnw LLC
851 154th Ave NE
Redmond, WA -
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Washington
Department of Aeronautics&Astronautics, Box 352250
Seattle, WA 98195
Institution POC

Abstract

The Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) Thruster is a new propulsion device designed to operate at the highest jet powers, well beyond the currently developed electric propulsion thrusters. Based on recent laboratory results on the formation and acceleration of magnetized plasmoids, the goal of the proposed research is to build and test a prototype that has the potential to surpass all current electric propulsion systems in efficiency, power, and thrust. The thrust is produced by the rapid acceleration of a compact toroidal plasmoid generated by a non-inductive technique that employs an externally applied rotating magnetic field (RMF). The RMF directly drives large azimuthal currents in the plasma, which together with the radial component of a steady applied magnetic field produce a large axial body force on the plasmoid. The thrust is produced by the action of external fields and thereby the requirement for electrodes is removed. The resultant magnetic field confines the plasmoid propellant and the external vacuum magnetic field insulates the thruster wall. The thruster can be operated with a wide range of propellants from hydrogen to xenon. The physics of both the plasmoid formation and acceleration has been demonstrated, and this work will extend these results to produce a multi-megawatt thruster at high efficiency and low mass.