Transient heat transfer and gas flow in a MEMS-based thruster

Alina A. Alexeenko, Dmitry A. Fedosov, Sergey F. Gimelshein, Deborah A. Levin, Robert J. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Time-dependent performance of a high-temperature MEMS-based thruster is studied in detail by a coupled thermal-fluid analysis. The material thermal response governed by the transient heat conduction equation is obtained using the finite element method. The low-Reynolds number gas flow in the microthruster is modeled by the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) approach. The temporal variation of the thruster material temperature and gas flowfields are obtained as well as the thruster operational time limits for thermally insulated and convectively cooled thrusters. The predicted thrust and mass discharge coefficient of both two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) micronozzles decreases in time as the viscous losses increase for higher wall temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-194
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluid flow
  • Kinetic methods
  • Microfluidics
  • Semi-conductor device
  • Space vehicle propulsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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