Electric Propulsion in Space

Electric Propulsion in Space

Shapal Hi-M Soft ceramic is being designed into more diverse and complex ion thruster applications than ever. Hall Effect Thrusters are rapidly incorporating Shapal and also Boron Nitride grades into the discharge channel, where the magic happens.  Specifically, Shapal Hi-M Soft (an aluminum nitride / boron nitride composite) has been seen to be extremely successful in this application. M26 Boron Nitride, HP Boron Nitride, have also been used in the past, however there has been a mass move towards Shapal.

Why are ion thruster designs settling on Shapal for Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Geostationary Orbit (GEO), Deep Space Exploration satellites, swarms and constellations?

It’s the unique combination of properties that makes Shapal Hi-M Soft so critical. 

    • Lower density than the alternatives like alumina. Shapal is approx. 2.7.
    • Easily machined into the increasingly complex designs needed to optimize the electromagnetic fields involved. This is even more important in the design stage, for the evolving iterations.
    • It’s scalable. Shapal Hi-M Soft is hot-pressed in billets up to 300 x 300 x 84mm.
    • Some Materials used in this application have lower outgassing rates. Shapal Hi-M Soft is the best, being at full density, M26 with the silica binder is next, followed by HP.
    • Some of the material grades are harder than others, with Shapal the hardest, followed by M26, and then HP. But all are still machinable.
    • Moisture resistance is an ongoing concern in this application. Shapal’s zero porosity is best, followed by M26 and its silica binder and HP, both requiring some post-machining protection to prevent moisture pickup.
    • Shapal's dielectric properties are uniformly good, with a dielectric strength of >60 KV/mm. Shapal also has a rdielectric constant k of approx. 7

    It is this combination of properties that enables Shapal to excel in the increasingly demanding Ion Thruster applications in this rapidly growing market!

    Contact Precision Ceramics USA to help you work through the available options.

Hall Thruster - technical ceramic boron nitride

Hall Effect Thruster Boron Nitride