COMSOL Multiphysics Modeling of a 20-W Microwave Electrothermal Thruster

E. Gao, and S. Bilen
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Published in 2008

The Microwave Electrothermal Thruster (MET) is a space electric propulsion device that uses an electromagnetic resonant cavity within which a free-floating plasma is ignited and sustained, heating a propellant gas that is that exhausted out of a gas-dynamic nozzle.

For an empty cavity it is fairly straightforward to accurately calculate the cavity’s resonant frequency and describe the electric field intensity distribution within the cavity. However, actual METs do contain perturbing regions which means that analytical solutions are no longer possible to fully characterize the device. Hence, we have employed numerical simulations using COMSOL Multiphysics to simulate the MET’s resonant cavity.