NASA STTR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-T8.01-9933 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 030067)
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE:Realistic Non-Nuclear Testing of Nuclear Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE:Effect of Ambipolar Potential on the Propulsive Performance of the GDM Plasma Thruster

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (SBC): RESEARCH INSTITUTION (RI):
NAME: Reisz Engineers NAME:Research Institute, University of Michigan
ADDRESS:2909 Johnson Rd. ADDRESS:Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
CITY:Huntsville CITY:Ann Arbor
STATE/ZIP:AL  35805-5844 STATE/ZIP:MI  48109-2104
PHONE: (256) 883-2531 PHONE: (734) 764-0205

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name,Email)
Terry   Kammash
tkammash@umich.edu
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
The gasdynamic mirror (GDM) plasma thruster has the ability to confine high-density plasma for the length of time required to heat it to the temperatures corresponding to specific impulse requirements. The often-cited plasma confinement time is directly proportional to the mirror ratio and the length, and is inversely proportional to the square root of ion energy. This confinement law, however, ignores the role of the ambipolar (electrostatic) potential which arises as a result of the rapid escape of electrons through the mirrors due to their small mass. This positive potential tends to accelerate the ions while slowing down the electrons until both species drift out at the same rate. It is expected, therefore, that a larger specific impulse and larger thrust will arise in the presence of ambipolar potential but at the expense of a longer device to maintain a desired confinement time. This proposal is aimed at a theoretical and computational investigation of the impact of the ambipolar potential on the propulsive capability of the GDM thruster. It includes the generation of parameters that will allow experimental verification of this phenomenon using the existing GDM device at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
One NASA objective for future space transportation systems is that they be faster, safer and more reliable. The gasdynamic mirror (GDM) plasma thruster lends itself to these objectives. It can be operated as an electric propulsion system that can open up space to human exploration. There is the potential for use in a future fusion propulsion systems. Recent developments point to future reductions in system mass with corresponding increases in cost effectiveness.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Gasdynamic mirror (GDM) plasma thrusters have direct commercial application to missions envisioned for the Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) initiative. If the GDM plasma thruster proves feasible there will be a commercial market for the thrusters and their associated power conditioning equipment. Users would include the military, for missions requiring high-power thrusters, and aerospace manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Fusion-based advanced propulsion systems using GDM plasma thruster technology are a future possibility for both military and commercial applications.