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Activity title

Assessment of Micro Technologies for Air and Space Propulsion

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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High performing micro power, MEMS technology, micro combustion, microfluidics, micropropulsion, plasma technology, small satellite


The present Task Group aims at the investigation and assessment of the power technology at micro scale for propulsion systems applied to air and space vehicles, with main focus on electrical power micropropulsion. Micro power technology has a high potential to enable in-space propulsion system, i.e. primary propulsion as well as precision pointing and orbital manoeuvring. Moreover, micro power systems enable sensors and actuators, which can be easily integrated to form intelligent onboard systems for both micro Unmanned Air Vehicle and small satellite platforms. As a follow on, we will focus on the development of MEMS-based micro power devices for propulsion, to be assessed both experimentally and numerically. The complexity of the work to be performed will require the application of the most advanced techniques and technologies, as well as their enhancement and the development of new ones, e.g. the use of micro plasma discharges for the enhancement of micropropulsion performance, as pointed out in the recent AVT-254. Furthermore, STO is uniquely qualified to organize a multi-national NATO effort to evaluate a broad class of micro power technology. An STO Task Group will establish a coherent multi-national effort to establish a common experimental database, define specific evaluation criteria, assess current predictive capabilities and encourage high performing micro power devices.


Facilitate an international collaboration of leading experimentalists and numerical simulation experts towards the development of high performing micro power system for aerospace propulsion. The long term scientific challenge consists in: 1) numerical modelling and prediction of all phenomena of a large scale propulsion system (e.g. combustion, phase change, heat transfer, electro-magnetic phenomena, plasma ionization), in a micrometric scale; 2) design and development of prototypes to be tested at different conditions depending on the focus of the analysis; 3) build-up and assessment of a common database of the collected experimental and numerical data. The team will use new opportunities for validation in ground facilities. The definition of a proper matrix of test cases, specific for each micro power devices to be investigated, will be of a primary importance for the definition of the database to be used for the standardization of micro power technologies. Frequent communications (i.e. regular twice-yearly information exchanges) will be expected between the members of the research group, including coordination with a partner NATO research lecture series. Cross-checking and application for air systems (UAV’s) acting within the airborne sector will also be considered. The technical team will be operated for a period of 3 years.


• Assessment of existing technologies, and development of breakthrough technologies for micropropulsion systems, with main focus on electrically powered devices, leading to prototypes of up to TRL5 • Micropropulsion systems, thermo-chemical propulsion, electric propulsion, hybrid propulsion, MEMS technologies • Assessment of plasma actuator technologies for micropropulsion • Numerical techniques and Computational Fluid Dynamics • Small satellite platforms (space); evaluation of applicability for Air sector (micro-aircraft/UAV’s) • Computational vs Experimental methods at microscale on 2 Test Cases

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