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  • Development of a simple Computational Model for Hall Thrusters

    Paper number



    Mr. Charles Ryan, University of Southampton, United Kingdom



    This project investigates the physical phenomena involved inside Hall Effect thrusters by simulating the plasma characteristics of the thruster. Hall Effect thrusters [also called Stationary Plasma Thrusters], are a promising new type of electric propulsion that have high efficiency and high specific impulse when compared to other electric thrusters.
    Low-power Hall thruster flowfields were calculated using a simple one-dimensional model that creates the plasma characteristics and ion acceleration process involved with the Hall Effect thruster. This leads to a prediction of the thruster performance. This calculation involves the use of a computer code that will model the movement of the ions and electrons within the thruster. The computer code consists of several coupled Ordinary Differential Equations that are solved using a fourth order variable Runge-Kutta method. 
    The Hall thruster is modelled in the axial direction, i.e. in the same direction as the motion of the ions. The area of the Hall thruster that is modelled is the acceleration channel, and also the axially increasing area that contains the ions once they are outside the acceleration channel, up to the cathode that is situated outside the acceleration channel. This simple one dimensional model only considers the axial motion of ions and the axial and azimuthal motion of electrons perpendicular to the magnetic field. The model includes first ionisation by direct electron-neutral collisions, electron-neutral elastic collisions, electron-ion Coulomb collisions, anomalous diffusion, and also channel wall losses of ion flux and electron energy that are involved with the secondary electron emission effect. It does not consider electron conduction near the channel wall. 
    The influences of varying magnetic field strength and acceleration channel length on the channel are examined, with the results being discussed with relation to changes in the plasma characteristics. The results, at a certain magnetic field strength and acceleration channel length are compared to existing Hall thrusters, like the THT series developed in Japan, and conclusions are made on the accuracy and validity of the simple hall thruster model.  
    Abstract document