Thermal Analysis of the 100-kW class X3 Hall Thruster
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Electric propulsion has generated significant interest recently as a mass efficient thrust option for deep space missions. This increased interest has drawn a renewed focus on improving the efficiency of electric propulsion thrusters, specifically Hall thrusters. Hall thrusters are a specific subset of ion engines that accelerate charged particles using a Hall current. Recent research into the 12.5 kW HERMeS (Hall Effect Rocket Motor – Magnetic Shielding) for use on the proposed Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM) has shown the desire to use these devices on flight missions. This paper will focus on another hall thruster, the XR-100. The XR-100 is a 100 kW class hall effect thruster used for laboratory technology development. What makes the XR-100 unique relative to more contemporary Hall thrusters, beyond the order of magnitude increase in discharge power, is that the XR-100 is a 3 channeled nested hall thruster. Common Hall thrusters typically have one annular channel where the plasma is constrained and used to charge the fuel and accelerated. The XR-100’s 3 channels are nested in a concentric format, with each channel fitting in a single plane. This presents very unique thermal modeling challenges with respect to quantifying the impact of plasma thermal loading and cross talk between the power dissipating components for each channel. This work will discuss the development of the XR-100 thermal model and the efforts to validate it with experimental data. Furthermore, some of the unique challenges that appear when trying to model high power components and plasma interactions will be discussed. The XR-100 represents a challenging and interesting example of the issues affecting thermal modeling of high power electric propulsion thrusters which will become more prevalent as their use becomes more common.