FPPT 1U image


Engineers at CUA have developed a patented Fiber-fed Pulsed Plasma Thruster (FPPT) which consumes PTFE propellant from a spooled form. The thruster uses massive parallelism in its energy storage unit (ESU) design, assembling COTS components into discrete modular capacitor assemblies while maintaining low per-cap specific current levels. Discharge initiation is accomplished via a regenerative carbon igniter array located in the thruster cathode. Thruster performance varies with fuel feed rate, with 16 J ESU configuration measured values ranging from 0.12 mN-s at 1,000 s to 0.09 mN-s at 1,700 s. Higher specific impulse of 2400 s was measured in a 32 J configuration. A 1U design provides up to 5,500 N-s total impulse while a 1.7U design provides up to 15,000 N-s total impulse. Accelerated subsystem life testing demonstrated > 1.6 billion capacitor charge / discharge cycles with nearly identical specific current waveforms. FPPT utilizes the completely non-toxic solid propellant Teflon with benign exhaust, has no corrosive or propellant plugging issues, and has on-demand thrust with no warmup time requirement. Further, the ability to control both input power and propellant feed rate allows tuning from higher-Isp operation to higher-thrust operation. CUA believes that the FPPT technology is a compelling option to meet many micropropulsion needs including deep-space missions.


Form Factor
Dry Mass
1.21 kg
Average Power
48.0 W
In Production
  • Champaign-Urbana Aerospace

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