Investigation of Heaterless Hollow Cathode Ignition
The development of long life high powered (>30A) hollow cathodes is of importance to meet the demand of increasingly powerful Gridded Ion engines and Hall Effect thrusters. High power cathodes typically operate at greater temperature ranges with LaB6 emitters, which poses a significant challenge to maintain heater reliability. The heater component commonly used to raise the insert to emissive temperatures, has inherent reliability issues from thermal fatigue caused by the thermal cycling with large temperature variations. A self-heating hollow cathode allows for potentially higher reliability through the design simplicity of removing the heater component. This also results in significant cost savings, and there is potential savings in the mass, volume, ignition time and power. The aim of the overall project is to investigate heaterless ignition characteristics to enable HHC designs with reasonable starting characteristics i.e. <20 sccm and <500 V ignition voltages.
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