DEEP PPU consortium at European Space Power Conference (ESPC 2023)

European Space Power Conference (ESPC 2023)

From the left Guillermo Nunez from Polytechnic University of Madrid, Javier Torres from Airbus Crisa and Pedro Alou from Polytechnic University of Madrid.

DEEP PPU consortium partners UPM and Airbus Crisa participated in the European Space Power Conference (ESPC 2023) in Elche, Spain (October 2023).

This conference is organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) with the participation of all the European space sector: industry, research centres and European universities. It was a very exciting event, participating about 450 attendees, mostly European but also some international representation. The consortium partners submitted and presented three papers during this event.

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Polytechnic University of Madrid

UPM presented two papers showing the main research challenges and the progress of the DEEP PPU project with respect to the Radio Frequency Generator for the thruster based on Gridded Ion Technology. There were about 50 attendees at each presentation, arousing great interest among the audience in the ambitious project challenges: analysis of the proposed architectures, the challenges of the high-frequency harness and the use of GaN technology to optimize the power density of the RFG.

Airbus Crisa

Airbus Crisa presented a total of 6 papers, one of them covering the development of the DEEP PPU project, where the company gave an overview of the architectures and technologies being used, as well as how the PPU is expected to fit in the electric propulsion market. The multi-technology approach of the development and its attractive performances generated a great response within the audience.

Power Propulsion Unit: topology comparison based on GaN semiconductors

Abstract: Four topologies (dual active bridge, phase shift full bridge, active clamp flyback and buck+LLC) are compared for an isolated DC-DC converter used to regulate the output power of a radio frequency generator for a gridded ion electric propulsion system for satellites. The DC-DC converter has an input voltage of 100V, being required a demanding wide output voltage regulation, 20-200V, with a maximum current of 6.5A and a maximum output power of 1.1kW. All topologies have been compared at a high switching frequency, 500kHz, to reduce the size of passive components.

Presenter: Guillermo Nunez, Polytechnic University of Madrid.


EEP PPU consortium at European Space Power Conference (ESPC 2023)

Analysis and Design of a Radio Frequency Generator for Gridded Ion Technology Thruster

Abstract: This paper presents an analysis of the radio frequency generator used for ionizing the plasma in a Gridded Ion Technology Thruster. The operational principle is explained, and a single-stage architecture is proposed to simultaneously regulate power and synchronize with the load without the need for a separate control stage. Simulations are conducted to validate the functionality of the proposed architecture, demonstrating its ability to regulate power and maintain synchronized current at a constant frequency for different output power levels and load inductances. Additionally, a prototype of the system is introduced, currently undergoing testing. The findings from this study contribute to the advancement of radio frequency generators for Gridded Ion Technology Thrusters, enabling efficient plasma ionization and propulsion in space applications.

Index Terms—Radio frequency generator, Gridded Ion Technology

Thruster, Power regulation, Load synchronization, single stage

architecture, Space applications.

Author and presenter: Pedro Alou, Polytechnic University of Madrid.


EEP PPU consortium at European Space Power Conference (ESPC 2023)

New developments, technologies and status for high power Gridded Ion Thrusters Power Processing Units

Abstract: This paper describes the existing Airbus Crisa high-power Gridded Ion Thrusters (GIT) Power Processing Units (PPU) with special mention on the latest PPU developments for Next Space. This paper presents the development status, including product architectures and features, qualification status, with emphasis on the main performances achieved and demonstrated by test.

Presenter and author: Javier Torres, Airbus Crisa.