Accion develops ion engines that perform like typical ion engines would, but in modular packages that are scalable across satellites from 2 to 200 kg.
Similar to traditional ion engines, our systems produce thrust using electric fields to accelerate ions. Ions leave the thruster chips through small holes in the extractor grids over each chip, and propel the spacecraft in the opposite direction. Each Accion system consists of several thruster chips, a propellant feed system, and a power electronics system.
Our thrust-producing ions are supplied from our ionic liquid propellant---a safe, non-toxic liquid salt that we store in passive plastic tanks. This novel source of ions is referred to as an ionic liquid ion source, and allows us to get rid of big ionization chambers, pressurized tanks, bulky valves, and external cathodes for neutralization.
The result? Higher thrust-to-mass, higher thrust-to-volume, and lower power than today's ion engines. Not to mention the ability to qualify for rideshare launches.
And we can accommodate any shape or propulsion requirement because our thruster chips can be placed anywhere on a satellite, in any number.
But perhaps the biggest difference is our manufacturing process. We use low-cost, hands-off batch manufacturing processes. If space is truly going to be accessible to everyone, we can't keep manufacturing propulsion systems like jewelry. Today, we make 44 thruster chips in one run.
Watch this video of our thrusters rotating a magnetically-levitated CubeSat in a vacuum chamber.