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Stiff railguns

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4 Author(s)
Weldon, W.F. ; Center for Electromech., Texas Uniu., Austin, TX, USA ; Bacon, J.L. ; Weeks, D. ; Zowarka, R.C., Jr.

Stiff guns have been operated with both plasma and solid armatures. A performance gain was seen in the plasma railgun as stiffness was increased. A stiff gun will help to maintain the bore shape and preserve the integrity of the seam between rail and insulator under the extreme asymmetric loads sustained during high-pressure operation. The hydraulically preloaded moly and ceramic gun has been fired six times at pressures as high as 87 ksi, and the bore still holds roughing vacuum up to two hours after the test. The elimination of seam leakage helps control bore erosion associated with plasma reconstitution from the rail and plasma perturbation that might result in loss-initiating instabilities. Reduced rail deflection allows solid and transitioning armatures to track the bore surface. Similar to all plasma armature operation, the stiff gun seals the plasma associated with a transitioning solid armature. The efficiency of transitioning solid armatures increases in a stiff railgun. An analysis of the strain energy associated with the deflection of the railgun structure is presented, and this mechanism is found to be a small fraction of the energy associated with armature loss and the rail resistive loss. The design and scale testing of the next generation of stiff railguns is underway, with the emphasis on reduced weight for field-portability and space-traceability requirements

Published in:

Magnetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 1 )