NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Inertial electrostatic confinement as a power source for electric propulsionThe potential use of an INERTIAL ELECTROSTATIC CONFINEMENT (IEC) power source for space propulsion has previously been suggested by the authors and others. In the past, these discussions have generally followed the charged-particle electric-discharge engine (QED) concept proposed by Bussard, in which the IEC is used to generate an electron beam which vaporizes liquid hydrogen for use as a propellant. However, an alternate approach is considered, using the IEC to drive a 'conventional' electric thruster unit. This has the advantage of building on the rapidly developing technology for such thrusters, which operate at higher specific impulse. Key issues related to this approach include the continued successful development of the physics and engineering of the IEC unit, as well as the development of efficient step-down dc voltage transformers. The IEC operates by radial injection of energetic ions into a spherical vessel. A very high ion density is created in a small core region at the center of the vessel, resulting in extremely high fusion power density in the core. Experiments at the U. of Illinois in small IEC devices (is less than 60 cm. dia.) demonstrated much of the basic physics underlying this concept, e.g. producing 10(exp 6) D-D neutrons/sec steady-state with deuterium gas flow injection. The ultimate goal is to increase the power densities by several orders of magnitude and to convert to D-He-3 injection. If successful, such an experiment would represent a milestone proof-of-principle device for eventual space power use. Further discussion of IEC physics and status are presented with a description of the overall propulsion system and estimated performance.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Miley, G. H.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Burton, R.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Javedani, J.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Yamamoto, Y.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Satsangi, A
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Gu, Y.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Heck, P.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Nebel, R.
(Los Alamos National Lab. NM., United States)
Schulze, N.
(NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Christensen, J.
(Illinois Univ. Urbana., United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
March 31, 1993
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:109228
Meeting Information
Meeting: Vision 21 Conference
Location: Cleveland, OH
Country: United States
Start Date: March 30, 1993
End Date: March 31, 1993
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
No Preview Available