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MEMS-based solid propellant micro-rocket with micro-igniter on thin membrane for next generation of low-cost small space and aeronautic engines

A. Chaalane, C. Rossi and D. Estève

micro-rocket, micro-igniter, thin membrane, microfabrication, solid propellant

In this work, a new planar structure of solid propellant micro-rocket, for microspacecraft and Micro-Air-Vehicle applications is reported. These applications require extremely low levels of thrust and impulse in a very sort time. We have successfully fabricated an array of 7 micro-rockets with a few millimeter dimensions using MEMS technology. The micro-igniter is a resistor deposited on a low stress thin membrane. For fixing the propellant to the micro-igniter, thermal glue is used for ensuring good contact, which is crucial to achieve high efficiency of ignition process. The micro-igniter fabricated on membrane permitted a good heat transfer to the propellant and thus a low-power consumption; only few hundreds milli-Watts were required for firing micro-rocket. A ceramic chip containing an extension of reservoirs was glued on the silicone chip, in order to increase the ratio of chamber section to nozzle throat section for increasing thrust force. Experimental tests of ignition and microcombustion near extinction limit, employing double-base propellant, have showed continuum combustion of a 1.4mm diameter during few 10ms to few 1s depands on the tank length. Depending on the micro-nozzle dimensions, we expect that this new powerMEMS will deliver a suitable thrust force ranging from 1μN to few 10mN.

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