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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.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2006