Mosaic projects

Ceramics for plasma propulsion

CERAMICS AT THE CORE OF SNECMA'S ELECTRICAL PROPULSION TECHNOLOGY

The CTTC participates in the development of the new plasma propulsion engines of Snecma (SAFRAN Group), which enable the transfer and orbit retention of telecommunications satellites.

The PPS1350 and PPS5000 engines use Hall propulsion technology: a gas (xenon) is ionized within a confined discharge into a ceramic annular channel and then the ions created are accelerated in an electric field and ejected at speeds of around 20-30 km / s, which generates the propulsive effect. To ensure electrical neutrality, the positive ion beam is neutralised by electrons emitted by the cathode. This technology allows significant weight savings over conventional chemical propulsion and increases the payload of the satellite.

The new generation of plasma engines have increased power and operation times that require greater resistance to erosion of the ceramics used for plasma confinement. The developments carried out in collaboration with Snecma, SPCTS and the CTTC aim to develop a new generation of ceramics to maximise resistance to erosion and ultimately, the lifespan of the engine.

For more information: the Safran Aircraft Engines plasma propulsion