Preliminary study of a fuel cell powered magnetoplasma engine with e-beam ionization

Bernard Parent, In Seuck Jeung

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A fuel-cell powered magnetoplasma jet engine (magjet) using electron-beam ionizers is here proposed for airbreathing flight in the supersonic/hypersonic regime. The engine consists of a fuel-cell duct containing the power source and of a high-speed duct producing most of the thrust through a magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) accelerator. To reduce the shocks and heat loads in the fuel cells, the enthalpy of the air is extracted beforehand through a MPD generator. The power produced by the latter and by the fuel cells is then split optimally between the MPD accelerator located in the high-speed duct and one located downstream of the fuel cells. The performance is assessed through exact solutions of a quasione- dimensional model which includes the effect of ion slip, Joule heating, and heat dissipated through electron-beam ionization. The magnetic field strength as well as the mass flow rate ratio between the high-speed and fuel cell ducts are seen to affect the thrust considerably at lower Mach number, but to have a smaller impact at hypervelocities. Flight beyond Mach 6 would necessitate substantial cooling of the fuel cells due to the ion slip effect preventing sufficient enthalpy extraction, independently of the magnetic field strength. For a fuel cell efficiency of 0.6 and a mass flow rate ratio of 5, the magjet delivers a specific impulse within 15% of the one of the turbojet in the Mach number range 1-3 given a magnetic field of 8 Teslas. From Mach 3 to 5, a magnetic field strength varying between 2 and 4 Teslas is seen to be sufficient to match the performance of conventional engines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication36th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781624100604
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event36th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: Jun 6 2005Jun 9 2005

Publication series

Name36th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference


Conference36th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference
CityToronto, ON

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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