The present work focuses on demonstrating the capabilities of electro-osmotic pumps, EOPs, to generate thrust. EOPs have high power to volume ratio and operate on ionic aqueous solutions making them a good candidate for use as thrusters in miniature watercraft such as micro underwater gliders. Millimeter-size nano-porous membrane will be used to achieve milli-Newton thrust. Electro-osmotic pumps are operated under high electric fields to achieve highest thrust possible. A byproduct of high electric fields in EOPs is the generation of gas which is addressed by using bipolar rectangular wave pumping. This resulted in over 55% increase in flow rate when compared to DC pumping for the same average voltage while reducing gas generation. When properly sized and optimized for thrust, the feasibility of EOPs is demonstrated. This is the first experimental application of a membrane-based electro-osmotic pump for propulsion. Several membranes of different materials were tested including polymer and ceramic membranes. It was found that glass micro-capillary arrays are the most suitable membranes for electro-osmotic thrusters, or EOTs. Among their advantages include their rigid construction and ability to produce high flow rates.
- Fluids Engineering Division
Application of the Electroosmotic Effect for Thrust Generation
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Hansen, TE, Tawfik, ME, & Diez, FJ. "Application of the Electroosmotic Effect for Thrust Generation." Proceedings of the ASME 2014 4th Joint US-European Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting collocated with the ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels, and Minichannels. Volume 1C, Symposia: Fundamental Issues and Perspectives in Fluid Mechanics; Industrial and Environmental Applications of Fluid Mechanics; Issues and Perspectives in Automotive Flows; Gas-Solid Flows: Dedicated to the Memory of Professor Clayton T. Crowe; Numerical Methods for Multiphase Flow; Transport Phenomena in Energy Conversion From Clean and Sustainable Resources; Transport Phenomena in Materials Processing and Manufacturing Processes. Chicago, Illinois, USA. August 3–7, 2014. V01CT15A015. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/FEDSM2014-22137
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