CUA developed the Cycle Automated Mass Flow (CAMFlow) system for reliable and well-regulated flow control. CAMFlow uses an innovative control scheme that enables stable operation using fixed frequency, Boolean valve states, even for the low flow rates necessary for sub-kilowatt Hall effect thrusters. This methodology removes system complexity, places the onus of reliability on valve cycle life, and combined with the fixed operational frequency allows for a direct correlation between system life and valve cycle life. The CAMFlow control scheme was successfully implemented in a TRL 5 system and tested and validated on a BHT-600. This included open loop, closed loop, and cold start operations. The control valves were cycled > 120 Million pulses demonstrating long-life potential. CAMFlow units are presently focused on smaller Hall-effect or gridded-ion electric propulsion systems having a flow rate in the 0 – 5 mg/s range, however the technology is broadly applicable over a larger range of flow rates for a broader commercial market.
- Low-cost flow controller well-suited for sub-kiloWatt Hall/ion thrusters
Flow control of < ±3% demonstrated
Hard startup on Hall thruster demonstrated
Demonstrated > 120 million valve actuations @ < 1x10-4 sccs He leak rate
Propellant Options: Xenon, Krypton, Argon, Nitrogen, other inert gases
Status: Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) required for final design and qualification. Lead time will depend upon qualification level. Non-flight Engineering Model (EM) ~ 7 months lead time
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