The plasma flow in a finite-electron-temperature magnetic nozzle, under the influence of an applied azimuthal current at the throat, is modeled analytically to assess its propulsive performance. A correction to the nozzle throat boundary conditions is derived by modifying the radial equilibrium of a magnetized infinite two-population cylindrical plasma column with the insertion of an external azimuthal body force for the electrons. Inclusion of finite-temperature effects, which leads to a modification of the radial density profile, is necessary for calculating the propulsive performance, which is represented by nozzle divergence efficiency and thrust coefficient. The solutions show that the application of the azimuthal current enhances all the calculated performance parameters through the narrowing of the radial density profile at the throat, and that investing power in this beam focusing effect is more effective than using the same power to pre-heat the electrons. The results open the possibility for the design of a focusing stage between the plasma source and the nozzle that can significantly enhance the propulsive performance of electron-driven magnetic nozzles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics