Facilities

The Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory (EPPDyL) has been continuously operating for more than five decades and has graduated generations of students, many of whom went on to leading positions in the EP community. The laboratory is also a repository of the know-how, results, theses, and publications produced over more than fifty years of research. The list of publications can be found here.

Although the focus of EPPDyL has been traditionally on experimental research, we have put forth considerable effort in the past few years to create a balanced synergy between experimental and theoretical work. The latter encompasses both analytical modeling and numerical simulation. We give here a brief overview of the laboratory's capabilities in each of these domains.

Four large vacuum facilities are available, all of which are presently fully operational. In addition to these primary facilities, several smaller vacuum vessels are in use throughout the lab for small-scale experiments and basic plasma physics investigation.

Pulsed High-Power Performance (PHPP) facility

(Yellow tank)

The PHPP facility is currently in use for the large hollow cathode project.

Vacuum system The vacuum vessel of the PHPP facility is a 2 m-diameter, 5 m-long fiberglass tank with eight optical access ports. A vacuum level on the order of 10-5 Torr is maintained by a set of two 48 in. diffusion pumps, each with a pumping capacity of 95 m3/s. The diffusion pumps are backed by a single roots blower, and two mechanical pumps. The roots blower and mechanical pumps have a pumping speed of 1340 and 150 cfm, respectively. Ionization gauges allow continuous monitoring of the vacuum.
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Large Dielectric Pulsed Propulsion (LDPP) Facility

(Orange tank)

The direct wave-drive thruster experiment is currently housed in the LDPP tank.

Vacuum system The vacuum vessel for the LDPP facility is an 8 ft-diameter, 25 ft-long fiberglass tank with thirty-one optical access ports. A vacuum level in the mid- to high- 10-6 Torr regime is maintained by a 48-in. diameter CVC diffusion pump with a pumping capacity of 95 m3/s. The diffusion pump is backed by a roots blower and two mechanical roughing pumps. The roots blower and mechanical pumps have a pumping speed of 3000 cfm and 400 cfm, respectively. Ionization gauges allow continuous monitoring of the vacuum level. A liquid nitrogen baffle is installed on the diffusion pump to achieve ultra-high vacuum. This tank currently holds the record for vacuum level achieved at EPPDyL, at 2.5x10-6 Torr.
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Steady-State MPD (SSMPD) Facility

(Steel tank)

Formerly known as the Steady-State Low Power facility, the SSMPD facility is currently housing experiments on a lithium applied-field MPD, the Lithium Lorentz Force Accelerator (LiLFA).

Vacuum system The SSMPD facility uses a 1.5 m diameter cylindrical carbon steel tank that is 6.4 m in length. A 48-inch diffusion pump with a pumping capacity of 95 m3/s backed by a roots blower (1340 cfm) and a mechanical pump (150 cfm) is attached to the end of the tank through a right angle baffle. Eight ports, two of which are equipped with optical grade pyrex windows, provide optical access to the tank interior. Background pressure levels on the order of 10-4 Torr can be maintained with mass flow rates of up to 20 mg/s of argon. An assortment of controls and gauges is used to monitor pressure and temperature in the tank, including a discharge vacuum tube gauge and thermocouples.
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Pulsed High-Power Diagnostic (PHPD) Facility

(Oersted)

Vacuum system The custom-made plexiglass chamber of the PHPD facility measures 1.83 m in length and .92 m in diameter. A set of two mechanical pumps and an oil diffusion pump maintains background pressure levels on the the order of 10-5 Torr for mass flow rates on the order of a few grams per second.
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