Method of Enhancing Microthruster Nozzle Performance

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Miniaturization is common in all technology fields, but it is especially important in satellites and spacecraft where extra size or weight increases the high launch costs. Small microsatellites are being developed and used for telecommunications, global positioning, and other applications, but their propulsion systems are constrained by traditional propulsion system size. As a result, many of these satellites have abandoned propulsion systems despite having similar missions to full-size satellites, reducing the adaptability and lifespan of the microsatellites.

One of the problems involved with shrinking the propulsion system is that thruster nozzles do not work efficiently when shrunk to a smaller size. Researchers at Purdue University have addressed this problem and developed a new design for a microthruster nozzle that can provide more thrust than existing designs. By better utilizing back pressure, the new nozzle design is able to produce more thrust without the use of any more fuel, reducing the weight and increasing the lifespan of equipped satellites.

Advantages:
-Improved nozzle performance - simulation models have achieved 100%+ thrust improvement
-Extended fuel life - shorter thrust required
-More cost effective - minimal modification to existing microthruster designs
-Works with multiple thruster types
-Allows for use of conventional nozzles
-No temperature limitations

Potential Applications:
-Propulsion systems
May 14, 2009
Utility Patent
United States
8,613,188
Dec 24, 2013

May 14, 2008
Provisional-Patent
United States
(None)
(None)
Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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