Modeling plasma processes in 1-kilowatt hydrazine arcjet thrusters

Thomas W. Megli, Junqing Lu, Herman Krier, Rodney L. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents predictions of a nonequilibrium 1-kW hydrazine arcjet model with sensitivity studies on generalized Ohm's law and electron-molecule inelastic collision factor δ. This model treats steady-state, two-dimensional, axisymmetric, two-temperature (electrons and heavy species), chemical nonequilibrium viscous flow, and includes flow swirl and anode heat transfer in a converging-diverging nozzle. Key results indicate that the arcjet flow is in thermal and chemical nonequilibrium. Sensitivity studies show that the modeling of the inelastic coupling of electrons-molecules significantly alters the predicted anode current attachment location and, subsequently, the predicted plasma voltage drop, and that the electron pressure gradient term does not significantly affect the current distribution. With an appropriate choice of δ, and adopting values from the literature for the cathode and anode sheath voltages, the model predictions are in good agreement with the experimental values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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