Scaling of efficiency with applied magnetic field in magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


An investigation of the scaling of thrust efficiency with the applied magnetic field in applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters (AF-MPDTs) is carried out in order to provide guidelines for scaling and controlling AF-MDPT performance. Thruster voltage measurements were made at different current, applied magnetic field and mass ow rate levels in a 30 kW lithium-fed AF-MPDT. The efficiency was then calculated using the voltage data along with a semi-empirical thrust formula derived and verified previously for the same thruster. The non-useful voltage component (the voltage associated with the thruster's power losses) was found to scale linearly with current and applied magnetic field and inversely with mass ow rate. This behavior was attributed to electrode sheath effiects and decreased conductivity with increasing applied magnetic field. The efficiency was found to increase with applied magnetic field for all current and mass ow rate values and the enhancement of the efficiency by the applied magnetic field was found to be greater when the mass ow rate is reduced. The observed minimum in the efficiency vs current curve was related to interplay between the components of the thrust and was shown experimentally and analytically to increase with increasing applied field and decreasing mass ow rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2010
Event46th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit - Nashville, TN, United States
Duration: Jul 25 2010Jul 28 2010


Other46th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNashville, TN

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering


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