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Simulating Plasma-Induced Hall Thruster Wall Erosion With a Two-Dimensional Hybrid Model

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5 Author(s)
Emmanuelle Sommier ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA, USA ; Michelle K. Scharfe ; Nicolas Gascon ; Mark A. Cappelli
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A 2-D radial-axial (r-z) hybrid fluid/particle-in-cell (PIC) model has been developed to model energetic particle-induced channel-wall erosion in coaxial Hall discharge plasma thrusters. The discharge model geometry corresponds to that of a so-called stationary plasma thruster with an extended dielectric channel, and the computational domain extends from the anode at the base of this channel through the channel interior and into the near-field plume region. A model of the wall-erosion process has been added to the simulation in order to assess thruster degradation due to ion and energetic-neutral-induced sputtering of the channel walls. The effect of ion-neutral collisions, including momentum and charge-exchange collisions, on the erosion process is examined. These models are used to simulate the long-term wall-erosion history. For the specific Hall-thruster-configuration modeled, collisions were found to have less than a 10% effect on wall erosion. The erosion rate is seen to decrease with time, in good agreement with experimental measurements of long-term erosion in similar thrusters, resulting in a wall recession of as much as 2 mm after 4000 h of simulated operation.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 5 )