Solid Polymer Propellant

CUA has developed an electrothermal thruster which consumes an inert polymer propellant fiber. This patented technology retains performance characteristics competitive with other warm gas systems, but enables more accessibility to micropropulsion via dramatically reduced cost and the elimination of range safety concerns. CUA’s Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) draws from extrusion 3D printer technology to feed and melt polymer propellant in preparation for evaporation and heating up to 750K using CUA’s compact resistojet technology. Despite undergoing depolymerization and two separate phase changes, the system power requirements are manageable, demonstrating average specific thrusts of 0.10 mN/W, and a maximum specific impulse in excess of 100 s for short duration burns. System performance contained in a 1U package is 271 N-s total impulse from 419 g of Delrin monofilament propellant, operating at 13.5W average duty-cycled power (45 W peak), 4.5 mN, and 66 s Isp.  

Advantages include:

  • Simplicity and safety with solid inert polymer propellant

  • Low-cost propulsion option

  • Propellant is spooled inside package and easily expanded as needed

  • No pressure vessel required for propellant

  • Compact package size as small as 1U

  • Well-suited for 3U or larger CubeSats 

Propellant Options: Delrin fiber (range safety not required)

Status: Available as 1U dual fault tolerant unit w/ < 9-month lead time

Variations: Alternate form factors available w/ additional cost and lead time

MVP is being integrated for flight on CUA’s NASA-funded Dual Propulsion Experiment (DUPLEX) CubeSat, presently scheduled for launch in mid-2022.

Email for Pricing

Related Publications
C. A. Woodruff, M. Parta, D. M. King, A. L. Woodruff, R. L. Burton, and D. L. Carroll, Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) Flight-like System Performance 19 Jun. 2022, 37th International Electric Propulsion Conference Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA USA, Cambridge, MA, June 19-23, 2022, DOI n/a, (2022)
C. A. Woodruff, D. L. Carroll, D. M. King, R. L. Burton, and N. Hejmanowski, Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) – CubeSat propulsion system with inert polymer propellant 06 Aug. 2018, Small Sat. Aug 2018, Logan, UT, USA, Aug 6-9, 2018, DOI n/a, (2018)