A Look at Solid Iodine Fuel Delivery for the AIS Io Series Thrusters

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Continuing from the reveal of the Io Series thrusters, today we will look at the first of two core systems of the design – the integrated valveless iodine fuel delivery. Iodine is touted as a very promising yet highly advanced fuel for EP. My goal is to simplify the design of these systems, and offer Cubesat teams a unique opportunity to easily afford such normally prohibitively costly and experimental system, in which the AIS Io Series will be available at orders of magnitude reduced cost than equivalent thruster systems on the market. Lets see how AIS is tackling this state-of-the-art propulsion technology to make it more accessible and affordable for Cubesat teams!

AIS-Io Series Iodine Fuel System

The key feature to the Io Series is solid iodine valveless fuel delivery, directly integrated to the back of the thruster, consisting of a ceramic heater with nickel alloy heat plate and spring-loaded presser plate to compress the iodine against the bottom heater assembly.

Unlike other iodine fuel system builds by other companies and in research, AIS is taking a highly unique and unconventional approach to this design by using 3D printing vs. traditional welded metals from exotic and expensive materials. The tank is a thick 3D printed Ultem 1010 case, providing multi-functionality as both insulation, structural support, thruster mounting, and electronics board mounting. A single inner bolt holds the assembly together and outer bolt holes allow for mounting to the thruster. The design is highly compact, easily expandable to larger sizes to accommodate more fuel, and easy to fuel.

AIS-Io Series Iodine Fuel System Cross Section