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Schlieren Imaging of Microthruster Exhausts for Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Microsystems Technology. (ÅSTC)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Microsystems Technology. (ÅSTC)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Microsystems Technology. (ÅSTC)
2012 (English)In: Measurement science and technology, ISSN 0957-0233, E-ISSN 1361-6501, Vol. 23, no 8, 085403- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract. Schlieren imaging is a method used to visualize differences in refractiveindex within a medium. It is a powerful and straightforward tool for sensitiveand high-resolution visualization of, e.g., gas flows. Here, heated cold gasmicrothrusters were studied with this technique. The thrusters are manufacturedusing microelectromechanical systems technology, and measure 22×22×0.85 mm. Thenozzles are approximately 20 µm wide at the throat, and 350 µm wide at the exit.Through these studies, verification of the functionality of the thrusters, and directvisualization and of the thruster exhausts was possible. At atmospheric pressure,slipping of the exhaust was observed, due to severe overexpansion of the nozzle. Invacuum (3 kPa), the exhaust was imaged while feed pressure was varied from 100 to450 kPa. The nozzle was overexpanded, and the flow was seen to be supersonic. Theshock cell period was linearly dependent on feed pressure, ranging from 320 to 610 µm.With activated heaters, the shock cell separation increased. The effect of the heaterswas more prominent at low feed pressure, and an increase in specific impulse of 20%was calculated. It was also shown that schlieren imaging can be used to detect leaks,making it a valuable, safe, and noninvasive aid in quality control of the thrusters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institute of Physics (IOP), 2012. Vol. 23, no 8, 085403- p.
Keyword [en]
Schlieren imaging, microthrusters, MEMS, shock cells
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Engineering Science with specialization in Microsystems Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-186252DOI: 10.1088/0957-0233/23/8/085403ISI: 000306366600039OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-186252DiVA: diva2:572764
Funder
VINNOVA
Available from: 2012-11-29 Created: 2012-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Development of Microcomponents for Attitude and Communication Systems on Small Vehicles in Space and Extreme Environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development of Microcomponents for Attitude and Communication Systems on Small Vehicles in Space and Extreme Environments
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, components intended for vehicles in space and other extreme environments have been realized using microsystems technology to facilitate miniaturized, yet high-performing systems beneficial for small spacecraft and other vehicles with limited size and power.

Cold gas thrusters commonly used on spacecraft basically accelerate a gaseous propellant stored under high pressure. When miniaturized, their performance is reduced because of viscous forces. Here, with a special masking and etching scheme, making silicon micronozzles close to rotationally symmetric, this shortcoming was mitigated as indicated by schlieren imaging of the rocket exhaust and a comparison with conventionally manufactured micronozzles with rectangular cross-sections. Schlieren imaging was also used to detect leakage, quantify thrust vector deviation, and measure shock cell periods in the exhaust. Correlation was made to operational conditions.

Similarly operating zirconia thrusters with integrated heaters and flow sensors were developed to allow for higher operating temperature. Successful testing at 1000°C, suggests that the propellant efficiency could be increased by 7.5%, and also makes them candidates for chemical propulsion.

A silicon thruster operating in rarefied gas regimes was also developed. Being suspended in a silicon dioxide frame reducing heat losses, a total efficiency of 17% was reached.

Relating to the integrated micropropulsion systems, two types of flow sensors were developed. Through finite element modeling, the insertion of sensor fingers in the fluid was shown to be an interesting concept for high-pressure applications.

Utilizing the same principle, a velocity sensor for a miniaturized submersible was developed. With a power consumption below 15 mW, it was able to measure directions with an accuracy of ±8º, and speed with an error less than 22%.

To enable high-speed optical communication between spacecraft, a Free Space Optics communication system, and particularly its dual-axis beam-steering actuator, was developed. Through thermal actuation, optical angles larger than 40º were obtained. A lumped thermal model was used to study design changes, vacuum operation and feedback control.

Understanding and mastering heat transfer in microsystems have been vital in many of the studies conducted. Throughout, advanced micromachining and modeling have been used as a step towards high-performance systems for space and other extreme environments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 43 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1003
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Research subject
Administrative Law
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-186862 (URN)978-91-554-8555-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-01-11, Polhelmsalen, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-12-21 Created: 2012-11-29 Last updated: 2013-02-11Bibliographically approved
2. High-Temperature Microfluidics for Space Propulsion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>High-Temperature Microfluidics for Space Propulsion
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, microfabrication methods and tools for analysis of heated cold-gas microthrusters are presented, with the aim of improving their reliability and performance. Cold-gas thrusters operate by accelerating pressurized gas through a nozzle. These thruster systems are very straightforward in both design and operation, relying on little more than a pressurized tank, a valve, and a nozzle. This makes them suitable for miniaturization, enabling their use on very small spacecraft. However, an inherent drawback with cold-gas thrusters is their low propellant efficiency – in thrusters known as specific impulse, or Isp.  This is compounded by the fact that when reducing length, the volume, e.g., that of the propellant tank, reduces with the cube of the length, meaning that the maximum amount of storable fuel reduces quickly. Hence, maximizing fuel efficiency is even more important in miniaturized systems. Still, because of their other advantages, they remain suitable for many missions. Schlieren imaging – a method of visualizing differences in refractive index – was used thrughout this thesis to visualize exhaust jets from microthrusters, and to find leaks in the components. It was found that effects of the processing of conventionally fabricated silicon nozzles, resulted in a misalignment of up to 3°  from the intended thrust vector, increasing propellant consumption by up to 5%, and potentially causing unintended off-axis acceleration of the spacecraft. Schlieren imaging was also used to verify that the exhaust from thrusters fabricated with close to circular cross-sections was well behaved. These nozzles did not suffer from the previous misalignment issue, and the shape of the cross-section decreased viscous losses. For applications requiring higher temperatures, a microthruster nozzle with an integrated flow sensor was fabricated from tape cast yttria stabilized zirconia. The ceramic substrate enabled heater temperatures of the nozzle exceeding 1000 °C, resulting in an increase in Isp  of 7.5%. Integration of a flow sensor allowed the elimination of couplings and reduced the number of interfaces, thereby reducing the overall risk of failure. Close integration of the sensor allowed moving the point of measurement closer to the nozzle, enabling improved reliability of the measurements of the propellant consumption. The temperature of the heater, in combination with the ion conductive properties of the substrate proved to be a limiting factor in this design. Two routes were explored to overcome these problems. One was to use the temperature dependence of the ion conductivity as a sensing principle, thereby demonstrating a completely new flow sensor principle, which results in better calibration, tighter integration, and 9 orders of magnitude stronger signal. The other was using hafnium oxide, or hafnia, as a structural material for high-temperature micro-electromechanical systems. This involved developing a recipe for casting hafnia ceramic powder, and determining the Young's modulus and thermal shock resistance of the cast samples, as well as studying the minimum feature size and maximum aspect ratio of cast microstructures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 50 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1233
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Research subject
Engineering Science with specialization in Microsystems Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-246057 (URN)978-91-554-9186-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-04-24, 2001, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-04-01 Created: 2015-03-02 Last updated: 2015-04-17

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