High-power inductive electric propulsion operation with alternative propellants

A. R. Chadwick, B. Dally, G. Herdrich, M. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This paper presents the results of an experimental campaign to measure thruster-relevant parameters for a high-power (180kW) inductive propulsion system utilising Ar, O2, N2, and CO2 as propellants. Results from the investigation show that inductive thrusters can make use of these propellants without the severe degradation seen in other electric propulsion systems. Furthermore, the collection of experimental data at powers greater than 100kW provides a reference of performance for the high-power electric propulsion devices intended for missions in the near future. Thrust and specific impulse in inductive systems can be improved by preferentially combining the chemical properties of atomic and molecular propellants. The maximum thrust recorded during these experiments was 7.9N, obtained using a combination of argon and oxygen (0.68 Ar + 0.32 O2). The combination of argon and molecular propellants also decreased thermal losses within the discharge volume. Specific impulse can be doubled for the same input electric power by combining propellants, and future modifications to the thruster geometry and acceleration mechanism can be used to further improve the performance of such systems.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-169
Number of pages19
JournalAeronautical Journal
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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