Lorentz Force of a Magnetohydrodynamic Thruster

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the effect of salinity, voltage, and magnetic field strength on the time it takes for a polystyrene bead to flow through a magnetohydrodynamic thruster. Salinity was tested by changing the water's concentration of salt, voltage was changed using a regulated DC power supply, and magnetic field strength was manipulated by changing the number of neodymium magnets in a stack. The amount of time required for the bead to flow through the thruster was measured using a stopwatch. A Lorentz force was created in salt water by applying electricity to two electrodes in the water and introducing a magnetic field between the electrodes. The mechanism, referred to as a "magnetohydrodynamic thruster", was placed on the bottom of a one liter tub. While data analysis revealed that any increase in the factorsí levels decreased the polysyrene bead's time (and therefore increased the thrust), it also revealed that none of the effects or their interactions were considered to be statistically significant. The data was analyzed using a three-factor Design of Experiment, which requires testing high, low, and standard level values of each factor. The findings of this experiment can be used to aid research in the development of more efficient magnetohydrodynamic thrusters for stealth submarines and the development of magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters for faster space travel.

Research Done By:

Eddie Ringle
Sterling Heights High School

Joel Tylenda
Sterling Heights High School

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