A Study of Thermal Radiation Transfer in a Solar Thruster

[+] Author and Article Information
S. Venkateswaran, S. T. Thynell, C. L. Merkle

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802

J. Heat Transfer 113(4), 932-938 (Nov 01, 1991) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2911224 History: Received April 10, 1990; Revised February 22, 1991; Online May 23, 2008


Combined convective and radiative heat transfer in an axisymmetric solar thruster is analyzed. In a solar thruster, focused solar energy is converted into thermal energy by volumetric absorption, resulting in a significant increase in the temperature of the propellant gas. The heated gas is then expanded through a propulsive nozzle in order to generate thrust. In the present theoretical analysis, submicron size particles are employed for providing the mechanism of solar energy absorption. The two-dimensional radiation problem is solved using both an exact integral method and the P1 -approximation. The overall energy transfer is solved iteratively by numerical means. The computational model is used to perform parametric studies of the effects of Boltzmann number, optical dimensions of the medium, and wall emissivity. The overall performance of the solar thruster is assessed by determining the thrust levels and the specific impulses of the device under different operating conditions.

Copyright © 1991 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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