Liquid metal mass flow measurement using a J × B pump

Michael A. Hepler, William J. Coogan, Brittany L. Ilardi, Edgar Y. Choueiri

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


A J × B feed system incorporating a variable magnetic field strength and translating induction probe has been designed to deliver and measure liquid metal mass flow rates in the range of 0 - 100 mg/s. Electric thruster research using metallic propellants under laboratory conditions requires sensitive control of low propellant mass flow rates. Previous mechanical and J ×B systems have struggled to control and accurately measure flow rates less than 100 mg/s. Existing theory describing the behavior of J × B feed systems was applied to optimize the physical dimensions and magnetic field strength of a prototype J × B pump for low mass flow rate operation with liquid lithium. To meet the challenge of measuring the mass flow rate, an inductive probe was incorporated to track the change in the propellant column height in the feed system reservoir to calculate the mass flow rate. Successful operation using liquid lithium was demonstrated for mass flow rates of 0.21-0.46 mg/s with a maximum error of ± 0.13 mg/s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication52nd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2016
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624104060
StatePublished - 2016
Event52nd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2016 - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jul 25 2016Jul 27 2016

Publication series

Name52nd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2016


Other52nd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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