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Plasma Sci. Technol. ›› 2018, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (10): 105501.doi: 10.1088/2058-6272/aad5da

• Plasma Technology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Three-dimensional particle simulation of ion thruster plume flows with EX-PWS

Hongru ZHENG (郑鸿儒)1, Guobiao CAI (蔡国飙)1, Hongyue WANG (王虹玥)2, Lihui LIU (刘立辉) 1 and Bijiao HE (贺碧蛟) 1   


  1. 1 School of Astronautics, Beihang University, Beijing 100191, People’s Republic of China
    2 Beijing Institute of Aerospace Testing Technology, Beijing 100074, People’s Republic of China
  • Received:2018-04-27 Published:2018-07-24


Ion thruster plumes from a multi-thruster array of different working configurations are simulated by a hybrid fluid-particle software. The particle in cell method is employed to model the transports of ions. The direct simulation Monte Carlo method is used to model momentum and charge exchange (CEX) collisions. The software is based on unstructured grids which make it easy to handle with complex geometry. The results of chamber simulation are compared with experimental data in ion current density and number density, which show good agreements. The maximum difference of current density along the thruster centerline is less than 9.30%. The interaction effects of plumes when multiple thrusters are operating in vacuum are predicted. Distributions of single charged xenon ions are significantly different in the near-field plume flow, however, merge into one in the far downstream region. Moreover, the interaction effect on the spatial distribution of CEX xenon ions is displayed as well.

Key words: electric propulsion, multi-thruster array, PIC-DSMC method, ion thruster plume