An experimental study of energy loss mechanisms and efficiency considerations in the low power dc arcjetThe potential utility of the low power dc arcjet in auxiliary propulsion was investigated. It was indicated that improvements in the areas of stability, energy efficiency, reliability, and electrode erosion are necessary to obtain a useful device. A water-cooled arcjet simulator was tested to investigate both the energy loss mechanisms at the electrodes and the stability of different conventional arcjet configurations in the presence of a vortex flow field. It is shown that in certain configurations only 25 to 30 percent of the input energy is lost to the electrodes. It is also shown that vortex stabilization is not difficult to obtain in many cases at the flow rates used and that a careful starting procedure is effective in minimizing electrode damage.
Curran, F. M. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)