Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Andrew S. Keys, PhD


Research into ion-based advanced propulsion systems, such as air-breathing Hall effect thrusters on high-velocity aircraft and ion-propelled thrusters on spacecraft, necessitates addressing accompanying residual electric charge accumulation on the ungrounded flight platform. An experimental testbed was constructed to assess charge mitigation technologies and their effectiveness on aircraft. A Van de Graaff generator provided static charge accumulation levels exceeding a megavolt when combined with a high voltage direct current source generator. This research attached an isolated airfoil structure to the Van de Graaff generator's lower terminal to measure the induced leakage current under various applied environmental conditions, including up to three static wicks along the structure's trailing edge, airflow across the structure of up to 10 m/s, and an insulative painted coating. The airfoil was a symmetric teardrop shape; air flowed over the rounded edge first to the tapered edge. Statistical tests indicated airflow improved a conductive airfoil's leakage current at α = 0.0739. The average increase was -0.1256 µA. No statistically significant improvements were observed with an insulative airfoil.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number