Hypervelocity Macroparticle Accelerator Experiments at CEM-UT

Weeks, D. A.
Weldon, W. F.
Zowarka, Jr, R. C.
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Several railgun experiments designed to accelerate projectile masses of 2 to 5 g to velocities greater than 6 km/s were performed. Two parallel rail-type accelerators with 12.7 mm square bores were used for the experiments. One gun is 2 m long, has molybdenum rails and alumina ceramic insulators. The other is 1 m long, has molybdenum rails and granite insulators. The greatest velocity achieved to date during the experiments was 5.1 km/s. During the test program, the following ideas to enhance launcher performance were tested: stiff-gun structures to reduce plasma leakage and rail movement, refactory bore materials to reduce ablation and frictional losses, and prefilling the gun bore with gases which will eliminate precursor arcs. After three experiments utilizing the 2 m long launcher, with peak currents ranging from 660 to 780 kA, a gun barrel comprised of 96% pure alumina ceramic insulators and 99.9% pure molybdenum rails has survived with minimal damage and no degradation of seals

D.A. Weeks, W.F. Weldon, and R.C. Zowarka Jr., “Hypervelocity macroparticle accelerator experiments at CEM-UT,” IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 27, no. 1, January 1991, pp. 85-90.