Abstract

“SELF-FIELD” magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters are low-thrust electric propulsion space-systems leveraging magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) principles for plasma acceleration and high-speed exhaust velocities. MPD thrusters produce high specific impulse and are suitable for long duration interplanetary space missions without externally applied magnetic fields. Alternatively, the applied electric field passing through the electrically conductive ionized plasma propellant generates a current (J) across the plasma. The plasma current subsequently generates a “self-induced “ perpendicular magnetic field (B) that interacts with the applied electric current field to induce an electromagnetic Lorenz thrust force (i.e., F=J×B) and thereby producing electromagnetic and electrothermal acceleration. The work herein provides a 2D MPD computational framework for parametric property modeling, for automatic finite element parametric mesh generation, for the specification of unique gradient based and MPC (Multi-Point Constraints) boundary conditions, for the coupled, non-linear, transient, compressible finite element analysis that include a fluid/solid conjugate heat transfer thermal electromagnetic formulation, and for the flexible display of post-processing results.

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