View Full Version : Discussion: Researchers Create a New Plasma ...

2004-Jan-29, 05:24 PM
SUMMARY: Researchers from the Australian National University have created a prototype thruster that could offer a new form of propulsion for spacecraft. The thruster is called the Helicon Double Layer Thruster (HDLT), and it works by passing hydrogen atoms through a magnetic field to create a beam of plasma. Like an ion engine, it's electrically powered and very efficient - solar arrays could provide the energy to power the thruster. Other agencies, including NASA, are working on plasma thrusters, but this is the first to be proven to work with hydrogen.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2004-Jan-29, 07:55 PM
very good! :D

but my question;
how strong and efficient is this compared between Ion drive, Solarsail and standard propulsion????

2004-Jan-29, 10:49 PM
Aussie Aussie Aussie!!...

Guest_Ray Bingham
2004-Jan-30, 06:41 AM
Now maybe we might be getting somewhere. I remember many years ago reading about the idea of a drive using hydrogen. Some SciFi author proposed a giant screen pushed ahead of the space craft that collected the hydrogen from space for use in the drive. This seems to be the only way to get fuel for something like this type of engine to run for very long since a vehicle could only carry a finite amount of hydrogen to use as a drive sorce.

We haven't even begun to implement space travel yet. Even missions to pluto are only solar journeys. Lets shoot for the stars!

Oh yes the solar sail. Always proposed as a big silver screen. Silver will reflect all of the energy that strikes it. Won't go anywhere unless it absorbes the energy.

Ion drive? Isn't this just a variation on the ion drive.?

Ray Bingham
2004-Jan-30, 06:44 AM
OOPS! guess I need to learn to log in so I'm not listed as a guest

Ray Bingham

2004-Jan-30, 08:41 AM
I am inclined to agree with Ray and indeed as an Aussie - with Kashi - go Aussie!!!

2004-Jan-30, 10:01 AM
Australians have proven to be great innovators and, in the past, have pioneered many leading-edge technologies.

Unfortunately we are totally inept at commercialising our inventions.

Hopefully this will not be the case with the Helicon Double Layer Thruster (HDLT) developed at ANU.

2004-Jan-30, 03:54 PM
i looked around in Space.com for plasma propulsion, it sees prosimeble

it can cut off a travel to mars of 6 months to 3 months! this is serious next standard propulsion for a new spacevechiles/probes. Thrust from the plasma engine could boost a spacecraft for a longer time and with better efficiency than conventional engines.
its ability to throttle, which allows it to increase or decrease in thrust when needed to enter or escape a planetís gravity. ;)

C.J. Morris
2004-Jan-30, 09:00 PM
This plasma engine is powered by solar rays?
Is not the density of energy fairly thin this far from the sun? At the planet Mars wouldn't the density be 1/4 of what is availible in Earth orbit? Postulating a 75% eficiency conversion to thrust, wouldn't it still be very weak?

2004-Jan-31, 06:06 PM
Well, I sent tycho1981's question to Dr. Christine Charles at Australia National University, one of the developers of the plasma engine, and here's what she had to say...

"how strong and efficient is this compared
between Ion drive, Solarsail and standard propulsion?"

In terms of thrust, chemical propulsion is at the top by orders of magnitude and will always be needed to get off the gravity of the earth. In terms of specific impulse or fuel efficiency, the ion or plasma drive (ion gridded thruster, Hall thruster, NASA VASIMR plasma rocket, ANU HDLT thruster...) is at the top and appears as the best candidate for deep space exploration.

The HDLT (Helicon Double Layer Thruster) plasma thruster is a very recent invention which has not had 30 years of development such as the ion drive has. Although much efficient than standard propulsion, it is not as efficient as the ion or Hall thrusters. However, its simplicity is exceptionnal since the acceleration mechanism of the ions to supersonic velocities (Mach 2) is related to a natural phenomenon called a current-free electric double-layer (a cliff of potential which can energise the charged particles falling through it). Double-layers exist in the plasma environment of the earth and the stars and can cause phenomena as diverse as aurorae, luminous draperies in the polar sky, and electromagnetic radiation from rotating neutron stars called pulsars.In the HDLT thruster, the plasma self-generates the current-free electric
double-layer under adequate magnetic field configuration and the main advantages are: no electrodes, no moving parts, no neutralizer at the exit of the thruster.

Dr Christine Charles

There you go... right from the source.

2004-Feb-04, 06:38 PM
:o Thats rilly cool we created a plasma machien.

Russell Steinke
2004-Sep-18, 07:23 PM
actually they are not the first to produce a plasma based system of this type.
i am a private researcher and designer.
i have had my plasma systems working for the last 12 years...
and have been refineing my designs for the last 10 years .
with far greater results , i have launched 8 test units so far...
each with diferant results and aplications.
one proto type will allow a maned ship to land on mars in only
2 weeks travel time...our launch date is currently set for the summer of 2005

Mr. Steinke

2004-Sep-18, 07:49 PM
Do you have a web page so we can find out more about what you've done so far?