Low power arcjet performanceAn experimental investigation was performed to evaluate arcjet operation at low power. A standard, 1 kW, constricted arcjet was run using nozzles with three different constrictor diameters. Each nozzle was run over a range of current and mass flow rates to explore stability and performance in the low power regime. A standard pulse-width modulated power processor was modified to accommodate the high operating voltages required under certain conditions. Stable, reliable operation at power levels below 0.5 kW was obtained at efficiencies between 30 and 40 percent. The operating range was found to be somewhat dependent on constrictor geometry at low mass flow rates. Quasi-periodic voltage fluctuations were observed at the low power end of the operating envelope. The nozzle insert geometry was found to have little effect on the performance of the device. The observed performance levels show that specific impulse levels above 350 seconds can be obtained at the 0.5 kW power level.
Curran, Francis M. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Sarmiento, Charles J. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)