Sustainable propulsion solutions

HET

Hall-effect thrusters (HET) are the most flown type of electric propulsion. At URA, we are developing a family of Hall-effect thrusters that operate on either oxygen (WETHET) or water (AquaHET). These systems will offer an order of magnitude price reduction when compared to existing Hall-effect thrusters on the market, utilise a fully European supply chain, and significantly increase the specific impulse when compared to the state-of-the-art.

The system.

The Hall-effect thrusters under development at URA Thrusters use a typical HET architecture consisting of the following subsystems:

  • Thruster head.
  • Propellant management device.
  • Power Processing Unit.
  • Water Tank.
  • Electrolyser Unit.

The thrusters under development are designed to suit a plug-and-play methodology, as well as utilisation of common parts with ICE, enabling further cost reductions.

Technology

Hall-effect thruster utilise a magnetic field to limit electron movement within the thruster head allowing for high ionisation rates and efficiency. Current HETs are limited by the use of Xenon and Krypton, two costly gases. URA in collaboration with a range of partners, are developing the full system architecture of Hall-effect thrusters designed from the ground up to use oxygen / hydrogen for the anode / cathode respectively. This technology also utilises a range of developments from the ICE product family including electrolysers ad water tanks.

Key advantages.

  1. Order of magnitude cost reductions in propellant.
  2. High specific impulse performance enabling reduced propellant mass or increased mission length.
  3. Significant ease of handling with water as the stored propellant.
  4. High propellant density.
  5. Synergistic performance with high thrust system ICE.

Performance

Thruster Head Thrust (mN) Isp (s) Power (W) Propellant Market Entry
WETHET-2000 48 3000 2000 O2/H2 2026
WETHET-5000 120 3000 5000 O2/H2 2028

Publications

Schwertheim A, Knoll A, 2021, PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISATION OF THE WATER ELECTROLYSIS HALL EFFECT THRUSTER (WET-HET) USING DIRECT THRUST MEASUREMENTS, SPACE PROPULSION 2020+1.

Schwertheim A, Knoll A, 2022, Low power thrust measurements of the water electrolysis Hall effect thruster, CEAS Space Journal, Vol: 14, Pages: 3-17.