Electric solid propellant ablation in a pulsed electric thruster

Matthew S. Glascock, Joshua L. Rovey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Electric solid propellants are advanced solid chemical rocket propellant that can be controlled (ignited, throttled and extinguished) with electric current. Work reported here focuses on application of electric solid propellant in a pulsed electric thruster similar to a pulsed plasma thruster. In the future it may be possible to develop a dual-mode electric solid propellant thruster that is switchable between steady applied electric current chemical mode and pulsed alternating electric current electric mode. Results presented here use a laboratory test thruster to create an arc discharge of 5-20 J per pulse in a cylindrical cavity of propellant. Results for Teflon and electric solid propellant are compared. Results indicate the electric solid propellant has higher ablation mass loss per pulse than Teflon (14.82 vs 7.17 µg/J), in agreement with theoretical analysis. The equivalent resistance and inductance of the arc plasma are 50 mΩ and 125 nH, respectively, for both propellants. Analyses indicate that the physical process of ablation is similar between propellants with thermal material properties driving the difference in the observed mass lost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 Joint Propulsion Conference
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624105708
StatePublished - 2018
Event54th AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2018 - Cincinnati, United States
Duration: Jul 9 2018Jul 11 2018

Publication series

Name2018 Joint Propulsion Conference


Conference54th AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering


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