Evince Technology (Evince) has started a collaborative development project with Mars Space that could see the company’s unique diamond-based vacuum electron source (VES) technology replacing a critical component within electric propulsion (EP) systems for use in the space and satellite sector.
The work, which is being carried out under a €200k European Space Agency GSTP de-risk contract, is focused on developing a solid-state diamond-based electron source as a potential alternative to the current state-of-the-art thermionic ‘Hollow Cathodes’ used within EP systems. A solid-state device would operate at lower temperatures, without needing propellant flow or pre-heating circuitry during ignition, delivering significant improvements in system cost and performance. Evince’s prototype device is due to be delivered in 2019 for trials within an ion thruster propulsion system at ESTEC in the Netherlands.
“Evince Technology has the potential to transform the Electric Propulsion market by replacing existing thermionic electron sources with more efficient, more reliable and lower cost solid-state alternatives. Our two engineering teams are already working together closely and we are looking forward to reporting some exciting results in the months ahead,” said Dr Simone Ciaralli, head of experimental research at Mars Space.
EP systems are designed to cut the amount of propellant required for specific satellite and space applications by electrically boosting propellant exhaust velocities. As a result, these new propulsion systems can help to reduce the mass of satellites leading to lower launch costs and/or to enable increased satellite capabilities.
Evince participates in several industrial R&D partnerships to support development of its core technologies, to build its application knowledge, and to accelerate its commercialisation strategy. This latest partnership – funded by the UK Space Agency in collaboration with the European Space Agency – reflects fast-growing market interest in the company’s innovative solid-state cold cathode technology and the recognition it could deliver game-changing performance improvements across multiple $billion markets. However, the views expressed here should in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.
* banner picture above, courtesy of Mars Space Ltd, shows testing of hollow cathode (right) emitting 20 A electron beam which is being collected by disc-shaped anode (left)
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