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. To date, these materials have ongoing challenges with performance/hardware reliability related to thermal management. As Hall Effect thruster power is scaled-up for missions with large payloads, thermal management poses a major design challenge for temperature-sensitive areas of the thruster. State-of-the-art Hall-effect thrusters use borosil ceramics for the discharge channel. ACM has identified emissivity modifiers that can be added to conventional channel materials that will create a High Emissivity Borosil (HEB). This will increase the total channel emissivity. Compared to a coating, this method will offer lifetime performance enhancement that will not spall, fail, or outgas due to cyclic power cycles.
The resulting technology will allow more efficient, higher reliability, and longer lifetimes for electric propulsion systems. The technology will find use in NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and commercial satellites.
The new channel materials will find use in commercial satellite propulsion systems used to maintain orbit.