Heavy Ion Propulsion in the Megadalton Range
Final rept. 1 Jun 2001-31 May 2006
YALE UNIV NEW HAVEN CT DEPT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
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The original project goal was to develop sources of heavy ions for space propulsion based on Taylor cones of heated ionic liquidsILs. Many commercially available heated ILs have been discovered that reach the purely ionic regime PIR of emissions no drops, offering a new high-efficiency ion source for electrical propulsion. A few commercial ILs have been found to reach PIR even at room temperature. Later efforts were directed at identifying and testing many non-commercial ILs capable of PIR at room temperature, especially those with high surface tension and high electrical conductivity, which are found to offer the most favorable conditions for electrical propulsion. Basic understanding of Taylor cones of ILs is still incomplete. But they have been seen to have similar advantages to well know liquid metal ion sources LMIS in terms of narrow ion energy distribution and microAmp current levels . ILs actually outperform liquid metals in many ways, as they run in positive and negative polarity, function at room temperature, offer a much wider range of masses and chemical compositions, are generally less reactive than molten metals, and are expected to form less contaminating plumes.
- Electric and Ion Propulsion