Thermionic hollow cathodes are currently used as sources of electrons in a variety of space applications, in particular as cathodes/neutralizers of electric thrusters (Hall effect and ion thrusters). Numerical tools are needed to guide the design of new devices before their manufacturing and testing, since multiple geometrical parameters influence the cathode performance. A reduced-order, numerical model was developed to assess the performance of orificed hollow cathodes, with a focus on the operational lifetime. The importance of the lifetime prediction is tied to its impact on the operational lifetime of the thruster to which the cathode is coupled. The cathode architecture consists of a refractory metal tube with an internal electron emitter made of lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6). The choice of LaB6 accounts for the reduced evaporation rate, the low sensitivity to poisoning and the absence of an activation procedure with respect to oxide cathodes. A LaB6 emitter is thus a valuable option for long-lasting cathodes, despite its relatively high work-function and reactivity with many refractory metals at high temperatures. The suggested reduced-order model self-consistently predicts the key parameters of the cathode operation, shedding light on the power deposition processes as well as on the main erosion mechanisms. Preliminary results showed good agreement with both the experimental data collected by Alta and data available from the literature for different operating conditions and power levels. Next developments will include further comparisons between theoretical and experimental data, considering cathodes of various size and operating conditions.
|Autori:||Daniela Pedrini;Riccardo Albertoni;Fabrizio Paganucci;Mariano Andrenucci|
|Titolo:||Modeling of LaB6 hollow cathode performance and lifetime|
|Anno del prodotto:||2014|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1016/j.actaastro.2014.10.033|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|