Pulsed Inductive Plasma Acceleration: Optimization
ByKurt A. Polzin
Pages 10

Optimization criteria for pulsed inductive plasma acceleration are developed using an acceleration model consisting of a set of coupled circuit equations describing the time-varying current in the thruster and a one-dimensional momentum equation. The model is nondimensionalized, resulting in the identification of several scaling parameters that are varied to optimize the performance of the thruster. The analysis reveals the benefits of underdamped current waveforms and leads to a performance optimization criterion that requires the matching of the natural period of the discharge and the acceleration timescale imposed by the inertia of the working gas. In addition, the performance increases when a greater fraction of the propellant is initially located nearer to the inductive acceleration coil. While the dimensionless model uses a constant temperature formulation in calculating performance, the scaling parameters that yield the optimum performance are shown to be relatively invariant if a self-consistent description of energy in the plasma is instead used.