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Demonstration and optimisation of a Field Reversed Configuration (FRC) plasmoid for injection into a High-Energy Density Electromechanical Thruster based on Stabilised Liner Compression for a UK Fusion Rocket propulsion program

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Introduction to the project
This project aims to investigate an aspect of a potential spacecraft propulsion system which could enable future manned exploration of the solar system. A “High-Energy Density Electromechanical Thruster based on Stabilized Liner Compression of Plasma” was proposed by researchers from the USA at the International Electric Propulsion Conference in 2017 [1]. The technology requires the creation of a FRC plasmoid, which is injected into the main propulsion system and compressed by a rotating liner to Fusion conditions. An FRC is a type of compact toroid (a doughnut shaped plasma with no material structure (i.e. magnet coils) at its centre).

The generation, manipulation, characterisation and optimisation of the FRC plasmoid is a significant aspect of the overall system and understanding this in detail is a prime objective of this PhD.

Aims of the project
• Understand the working principles and physics of FRC plasmoid creation and optimisation.
• Build up Kingston University facilities and demonstrate the creation of a FRC plasmoid.
• Optimise a FRC plasmoid for liner compression.
• Optimise the FRC plasmoid generator design for spacecraft applications.
• Support research bid and funding work for all aspects of the UK Fusion Rocket program.

Information about the candidate
The candidate should be self-motivated, determined and be able to show a quality of perseverance. There will be a significant amount of self-learning involved and the candidate should show they have the confidence to reach out and network with other academics internationally to achieve the project’s aims.

The candidate must have a keen interest in space propulsion technologies, having completed a postgraduate degree in a relevant field and achieved a minimum of an upper second class degree (i.e. 2:1). Experience with FRC plasma generation, plasma physics, mega gauss magnetic fields, electric propulsion and technology would be advantageous.

A significant aspect to this PhD will be the writing of research proposals to win external funding for facilities. Experience and demonstration of writing research bids that have won funding would be advantageous.

Information about supervisory team
The first supervisor will be Dr Peter Shaw who has spent seven years in academia studying electric propulsion systems for microsatellites and five years in industry building microsatellites and their propulsion systems.

Funding Notes

There is no funding for this project


[1] Turchi P.J., Frese S.D., Frese M.H., “High-Energy Density Electromechanical Thruster Based on Stabilized Liner Compression of Plasma”, 35th IEPC, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, October 8th -12th, 2017

How good is research at Kingston University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 14.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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