Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) have produced ideas and techniques for creating new devices at the micro/nano scale. Nano/pico satellites have limited orientation capability partly due to the current state of microthruster devices. Development of a self-contained micro propulsion system would enable dynamic orbital maneuvering of pico- and nano-class satellites. The act of vaporizing a fluid via nanochannels to vacuum has not been studied and the limitations are unknown, but it could provide a novel method of propulsion for small satellites. However, solution properties are transient during vaporization which affects fluid flow. Thus, experiments have been designed to measure solution properties including density, evaporation rate, and vaporization pressure. A setup has been designed monitor the solution mass and volume inside a vacuum chamber. Evaporation of the solution is affected by the vacuum pressure, capillary tubing diameter, solution temperature, and solution concentration. When maintained at the solution vapor pressure, the vaporization rate has ranged from 0.003 to 0.025 grams per minute across the varying concentrations. Preliminary results have indicated some interesting trends regarding solution composition and vaporization rate. The results obtained from preliminary experiments will be used in conjunction with future experiments to determine the viability of nanochannels to be used in the small satellite propulsion system.
Water Based Propellant for Cold Gas Thruster
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Lee, JB, & Huang, A. "Water Based Propellant for Cold Gas Thruster." Proceedings of the ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Volume 10: Micro- and Nano-Systems Engineering and Packaging. Houston, Texas, USA. November 13–19, 2015. V010T13A029. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2015-52776
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