The effect of a third, active electrode placed inside the ceramic chamber of a Hall thruster is analyzed. Both electron-collecting and electron-emitting modes are considered. Significant efficiency enhancement with respect to the single-stage operation can be obtained for a good electron-emitting electrode, placed in an intermediate location of the acceleration region, and for an anode-to-electrode (inner-stage) potential significantly larger than the ionization potential. Optimum values of the electrode location and voltage are determined. The performance improvement is due to a reduction of the energy losses to the chamber walls. This is the consequence of lower Joule heating and thus lower electron temperature in the outer stage. When the ionization process is efficient already in the single-stage operation, (i) two-stage operation does not affect practically the propellant and voltage utilizations and (ii) thrust efficiency decreases when the intermediate electrode works as an electron collector.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)