Electric propulsion for space is attractive for NASA, military, and commercial missions. NASA has identified manufacturing issues that have resulted in significant costs to achieve performance repeatability and hardware reliability. Without addressing the process and materials issues, both the production of existing thrusters and the development of new thrusters will continue to face the prospect of high costs.
Current Hall effect thrusters make use of hexagonal boron nitride (BN) for the discharge channel in which plasma is generated and accelerated. Current materials have exhibited substantial lot-to-lot variability. Such material property inconsistencies have thus necessitated costly thruster design features to improve survivability margins against mechanical and thermal shock.
ACM has identified a key approach to improve the lot-to-lot consistency of BN based channel materials. ACM’s PAL process technology will produce a highly uniform microstructure after hot pressing. This will produce a high performance, repeatable BN material that is ideal for Hall effect thruster channels.
The proposed technology will find NASA use in HERMES propulsion system, in future deep space propulsion systems, and for station keeping of near Earth research satellites.
The proposed technology will find use in commercial satellite propulsion systems.