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Title: Development of a particle in cell code for the simulation of dual stage ion thrusters
Author: Bramer, Elinor C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 7180
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis focuses on the design, development and testing of a two dimensional particle in cell (PIC) code (PICSIE) written in Matlab. The code is applied to the specific problem of modelling the performance of dual stage ion thrusters. The code simulates one full aperture within dual stage ion thruster systems, focusing on the flow of ions through the aperture. Only the ions have been included in the simulation in order to minimize running time. The results produced by the simulation code are compared with results obtained from the vacuum chamber testing of the DS4G prototype, along with results from other simulation codes and research papers in order to verify the performance of the simulation code. The Dual-Stage 4-Grid (DS4G) and Dual-Stage 3-Grid (DS3G) thrusters are both sim- ulated in order to compare the performance of the two thrusters and assess the benefits and disadvantages of including the fourth grid in a dual stage thruster system. Different grid configurations are simulated in order to find the most efficient configuration of the ion optics and accelerating voltages for each thruster, with the aim being to find the con- figurations that produce the maximum particle momentum, thrust and specific impulse while minimizing the rate of erosion of the ion optics and maximising the efficiency of the thruster. These simulations are applied to the problem of deciding if the advantages provided in using a 4th grid outweigh the disadvantages compared to the 3 grid design. The results show that if erosion due to backstreaming ions is disregarded, including the fourth grid in the thruster design results in no apparent advantages in terms of the perfor- mance parameters studied in this work. The only noticeable difference between the three and four grid cases is a significant increase in the change in ion momentum observed when the fourth grid is not included in the design. The conclusion of the work is that the fourth grid should not be included in the dual stage design unless a very long lifetime is required and it is thought that erosion due to backstreaming will prevent the three grid thruster from fulfilling this criteria. The concept of propagating waves through the plasma within the ion thruster discharge chamber is investigated, with the aim of discovering any benefits and improvements in performance that may arise and forming a conclusion on whether further study on the topic of waves within the discharge chamber may be beneficial. No improvements in per- formance parameters were observed in this work, although further study in the area may show benefits to introducing waves into the plasma.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TL0500 Aeronautics. Aeronautical engineering