On magnetic reconnection as promising driver for future plasma propulsion systems

Emanuele Cazzola, Davide Curreli, Giovanni Lapenta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work presents a more detailed analysis of the process of magnetic reconnection as a promising ion beam accelerator mechanism with possible applications in laboratory plasmas and, more importantly, in the plasma propulsion field. In a previous work, an introductory study on this subject was already carried out, yet under the adoption of relevant approximations, such as the limitation to 2.5D simulations and especially the use of hydrogen plasma as a propellant, whose element is rarely considered in the real scenario. Also, the analysis mainly focussed on studying the physical content of the outcomes, by leaving out the analysis of more important engineering quantities, such as the mass flow and thrust effectively reached out of such systems. In this work, we intend to fill these gaps in order to provide further insights into the great potentiality of a future technology based on magnetic reconnection. Additionally, one of the possibly limiting features was the inevitable symmetric outflow produced by the reconnection process. Among all the possible adoptable solutions, we propose here a solution based on the particle behavior undertaken for entering the reconnection region according to the initial density profile. We demonstrate that a noticeable net thrust value can be achieved by setting up a longitudinal asymmetric density profile with a relevant drop gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number073512
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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