Faculty Advisor

Blandino, John J.


The goal of this project was to design and build a laboratory-model, Radio-Frequency Electrothermal thruster to operate at 300 W using a 13.56 MHz RF power supply. The thruster was designed to include an interchangeable nozzle. Two numerical models were created. The first was a 0-D global model based on an energy balance in the discharge and implemented in MATLAB. The second was a heat transfer model generated using COMSOL multiphysics software. Materials and components were selected and purchased for the thruster structure, mounting stand, gas inlet, and discharge cavity. A matching network was required to minimize reflected power in the transmission line. After a review of matching network theory, a circuit analysis was performed to design the network and select components.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2015


Aerospace Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering