Doctoral Dissertations

Keywords and Phrases

Ablation-fed arc; Electric solid propellant; Impulse measurements; Multimode propulsion; Pulsed plasma thruster


"Electric solid propellants are advanced solid chemical rocket propellants that can be controlled (ignited, throttled and extinguished) through the application and removal of an electric current. These propellants are also being considered for use in ablative pulsed plasma thruster and multimode systems. In this work, the behavior and performance of a novel green electric solid propellant operating in an electrothermal ablation-fed pulsed plasma thruster was investigated. Using an inverted pendulum micro-Newton thrust stand, the impulse bit and specific impulse of the device using the electric solid propellant were measured for short-duration and long-duration runs to end-of-life, at energy levels of 5, 10, 15 and 20 J. Also, the device was operated using the current state-of-the-art ablation-fed pulsed plasma thruster propellant, polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. Impulse bit measurements for PTFE indicate 100 μN-s at an initial energy level of 5 J, which increases linearly by ~30 μN-s/J with initial energy. Measurements of the impulse bit for the electric solid propellant are on average lower than PTFE by about 5%. Further, it is shown that absorbed water in the hygroscopic electric solid propellant evaporates rapidly during early discharges of the device. This mass loss artificially decreased specific impulse relative to traditional propellant. Removing this evaporated mass from the ablation mass loss measurements, the corrected specific impulse of the propellant is 300 s compared to 450 s for PTFE. The electric solid propellant shows some promise for future multimode application but is currently limited in electric propulsion application by poor ablation efficiency and the absorption of atmospheric water"--Abstract, page iv.


Pernicka, Henry J.

Committee Member(s)

Rovey, Joshua L.
Polzin, Kurt
Riggins, David W.
Castano Giraldo, Carlos Henry


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D. in Aerospace Engineering


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Journal article titles appearing in thesis/dissertation

  • Electric solid propellant ablation in an arc discharge
  • Thermodynamic properties of hydroxylammonium nitrate-based electric solid propellant plasma
  • Impulse measurements of electric solid propellant in an electrothermal ablation-fed pulsed plasma thruster
  • Specific impulse of electric solid propellant in an electrothermal ablation-fed pulsed plasma thruster


xiii, 138 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographic references.


© 2019 Matthew Scott Glascock, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Thesis Number

T 11622

Electronic OCLC #