Performance Improvement of MEMS Micro-Thrusters Through Novel Double Depth Aerospike Design

Chaggai Ganani, Angelo Cervone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientific


A major concern in the development of micro-propulsion systems, used for CubeSat or PocketQube missions, is the significantly increased viscous losses encountered in the nozzle. The viscous losses, associated with the low throat Reynolds numbers, limit the usability of micro-propulsion systems. A promising solution is the use of linear aerospike nozzles, which mitigates a portion of the viscous losses by removing the walls normal to the nozzle profile, thus reducing the flow-wall interactions. This paper presents the results of the design, numerical study, and fabrication of a novel double depth aerospike micro-nozzle. This micro-nozzle uses different depths before and after the nozzle throat, aiming to reduce over-edge expansion losses encountered in single depth aerospike nozzles. The steady state micro-nozzle performance is evaluated through three dimensional numerical simulations, using a continuum model, with nitrogen gas as the working fluid. The numerical simulations are performed over a range of spike depths between 200 and 1000 µm, and for the throat Reynolds numbers in the range of 191 to 2861. Additionally, linear micro-nozzles with varying divergence half angles (?=15°-45°), and single depth linear aerospikes truncated at 20%, 40% and 60% are investigated. Evaluation of the results shows that the double depth aerospike micro-nozzle outperforms both the linear and single depth aerospike nozzles across the entire range of investigated Reynolds numbers. That is, with performance improvements between 19.2% and 33.6% compared to the best performing linear nozzle. Also, indications will be given on the manufacturability of this novel micro-nozzle geometry using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication techniques. Thus, with the application of the double depth aerospike nozzle geometry, doors are opened for new complex nano- and pico-satellite missions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIAF 70th International Astronautical Congress
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019 - Washington, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 201925 Oct 2019
Conference number: 70

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
ISSN (Print)0074-1795


Conference70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019
Abbreviated titleIAC 2019
CountryUnited States
OtherThe proceedings will be provided to all participants on
the first day of the Congress.
Internet address

Bibliographical note

The proceedings will be provided to all participants on
the first day of the Congress.


  • MEMS
  • Micro-nozzle
  • OpenFOAM
  • Manufacturing


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