A study of thermal radiation transfer in a solar thruster

S. Venkateswaran, S. T. Thynell, C. L. Merkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Combined convective and radiative heat transfer in an axisymmetric solar thruster is analyzed. In a solar thruster, focused solar energy is converted into thermal energy by volumetric absorption, resulting in a significant increase in the temperature of the propellant gas. The heated gas is then expanded through a propulsive nozzle in order to generate thrust. In the present theoretical analysis, submicron size particles are employed for providing the mechanism of solar energy absorption. The twodimensional radiation problem is solved using both an exact integral method and the Pi-approximation. The overall energy transfer is solved iteratively by numerical means. The computational model is used to perform parametric studies of the effects of Boltzmann number, optical dimensions of the medium, and wall emissivity. The overall performance of the solar thruster is assessed by determining the thrust levels and the specific impulses of the device under different operating conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)932-938
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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