Theoretical model for applied-field MPD thrusters

Pavlos G. Mikellides, Peter J. Turchi, Norman F. Roderick

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Numerical modeling of the NASA LeRC 100 kW, steady-state, applied-field MPD thruster is performed using the magnetohydrodynamics code, MACH2, for a range of applied magnetic field strengths and discharge currents. Overall performance trends, obtained experimentally, are captured by the simulations. Magnitudes of plasma voltage versus applied field strength also agree well. Interrogation of the calculated flow field offers a new visualization of applied-field MPD thruster operation, comprising the following elements: a) the back electromotive force is the dominant contributor to the plasma voltage for the geometry examined. b) viscous forces oppose applied azimuthal electromagnetic forces and limit the maximum rotational speed to a constant independent of applied field or current value. c) viscous heating and conversion of thermal energy to axial directed kinetic energy is the main acceleration mechanism. d) the low density, low conductivity plasma for the regime examined does not interact with the applied field in the manner of a magnetic nozzle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes
Event31st Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 1995 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jul 10 1995Jul 12 1995


Other31st Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 1995
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering


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