Numerical modeling of the pulsed inductive thruster operating with ammonia propellant at high energy levels, utilized a time-dependent, two-dimensional, and axisymmetric magnetohydrodynamics code to provide bilateral validation of experiment and theory and offer performance insights for improved designs. The power circuit model was augmented by a plasma voltage algorithm that accounts for the propellant's time-dependent resistance and inductance to properly account for plasma dynamics and was verified using available analytic solutions of two idealized plasma problems. Comparisons of the predicted current waveforms to experimental data exhibited excellent agreement for the initial half-period, essentially capturing the dominant acceleration phase. Further validation proceeded by comparisons of the impulse for three different energy levels, 2592, 4050, and 4608 J and a wide range of propellant mass values. Predicted impulse captured both trends and magnitudes measured experimentally for nominal operation. Interpretation of the modeling results in conjunction to experimental observations further confirm the critical mass phenomenon beyond which efficiency degrades due to elevated internal energy mode deposition and anomalous operation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy