Computational Analysis and Design of the Electrothermal Energetic Plasma Source Concept

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Virginia Tech

Electrothermal (ET) Plasma Technology has been used for many decades in a wide variety of scientific and industrial applications. Due to its numerous applications and configurations, ET plasma sources can be used in everything from small scale space propulsion thrusters to large scale material deposition systems for use in a manufacturing setting. The sheer number of different types of ET sources means that there is always additional scientific research and characterization studies that can be done to either explore new concepts or improve existing designs.

The focus of this work is to explore a novel electrothermal energetic plasma source (ETEPS) that uses energetic gas as the working fluid in order to harness the combustion and ionization energy of the subsequently formed energetic plasma. The goal of the work is to use computer code and engineering methods in order to successfully characterize the capabilities of the ETEPS concept and to then design a prototype which will be used for further study.

This thesis details the background of ET plasma physics, the ETEPS concept physics, and the computational and design work done in order to demonstrate the feasibility of using the ETEPS source in two roles: space thrusters and electrothermal plasma guns.

electrothermal plasma, space propulsion, electric weaponry, electrothermal chemical guns, electrothermal propulsion