AQUAJET Electrodeless water plasma ECR thruster
2017 - 2018 | UK Space Agency
AQUAJET: the first water plasma thruster in Europe.
AVS has designed, built and operated an electrodeless ambipolar thruster test-bed, based on Electron Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) at 2.45 GHz with a highly adaptable geometry, in collaboration with the University of Surrey and STFC, funded by the UK Space Agency.
ECR is a technology commonly used in ion sources for particle accelerators where AVS has a strong heritage, and allows better performance than competing helicon thrusters using radio frequencies. The technology requires no neutralizers, electrodes or grids, reducing erosion problems and complexity relative to comparable existing propulsion systems.
Our device will ultimately compete with gridded ion engines and hall effect thrusters at lower cost and far greater suitability for alternative propellants. We proved the high flexibility of our test-bed by conducting more than 300 initial hot fire tests in a range of configurations and using three different propellants: argon, xenon and water. For this type of thruster we are the first to demonstrate linear performance scaling with input power, and the first to demonstrate the use of water propellant.
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