Using electron fluid models to analyze plasma thruster discharges Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2023

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 31


  • 1:2


  • 2

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2731-4596


  • Fluid models of the slow-dynamics of magnetized, weakly-collisional electrons lead to build computationally-affordable, long-time simulations of plasma discharges in Hall-effect and electrodeless plasma thrusters. This paper discusses the main assumptions and techniques used in 1D to 3D electron fluid models, and some examples illustrate their capabilities. Critical aspects of these fluid models are the expressions for the pressure tensor, the heat flux vector, the plasma-wall fluxes, and the high-frequency-averaged electron transport and heating caused by plasma waves, generated either by turbulence or external irradiation. The different orders of magnitude of the three scalar momentum equations characterize the electron anisotropic transport. Central points of the discussion are: the role of electron inertia, magnetically-aligned meshes versus Cartesian-type ones, the use of a thermalized potential and the infinite mobility limit, the existence of convective-type heat fluxes, and the modeling of the Debye sheath, and wall fluxes. Plasma plume models present their own peculiarities, related to anomalous parallel cooling and heat flux closures, the matching of finite plume domains with quiescent infinity, and solving fully collisionless expansions. Solutions of two 1D electron kinetic models are used to derive kinetically-consistent fluid models and compare them with more conventional ones.


  • Aeronautics
  • Biology and Biomedicine
  • Electronics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Naval Engineering
  • Physics


  • magnetized fluid modeling; numerical tools; electron transport; hall thrusters; electrodeless plasma thrusters; magnetic nozzles and plumes