Development of meso and micro scale liquid propellant thrusters

R. A. Yetter, V. Yang, Z. Wang, Y. Wang, D. Milius, M. Peluse, Ilhan A. Aksay, M. Angioletti, F. L. Dryer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

28 Scopus citations


This paper reports on the design, fabrication and testing of liquid-propellant chemical microthrusters for propulsion of small and micro-spacecraft. The propellant formulations include energetic oxidizers (hydrazinium nitroformate, ammonium dinitramide, and hydroxylammonium nitrate), alcohol fuels, and water as the liquid carrier and electrical conductor. Asymmetric whirl combustion has been studied in combustion chamber volumes ranging from approximately 10 to 170 mm3 with gaseous fuel (H2, CH4, and C3H8) - air mixtures as a means to stabilize the reaction and minimize heat losses in the microthruster. Based on these vortex flow combustor studies, microthrusters have been designed and fabricated from aluminum oxide using ceramic stereolithography. The microthrusters have throat diameters ranging from approximately 300 - 700 μm, an exidthroat area ratio of approximately 2, and a combustion chamber volume of approximately 60 mm3. Initial hot frre tests have been conducted with H2-air mixtures to enable preliminary thermal structure analysis, diagnostics testing and model development. In separate tests, electrolytic ignition techniques have been investigated for initiation of the liquid propellants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication41st Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit
StatePublished - 2003
Event41st Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit 2003 - Reno, NV, United States
Duration: Jan 6 2003Jan 9 2003

Publication series

Name41st Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit


Other41st Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit 2003
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityReno, NV

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


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