Accion Systems Ion Thruster Chips Gets $11 Million in Funding

Accion Systems technology is built around a thruster chip architecture. Each chip houses hundreds of microscopic emitters that produce beams of ions generated from our novel propellant source: ionic liquid. They plan to eventually scale to millions of emitters per chip which would enable thrust that is 6000 times higher than they currently have.

They have a product roadmap to go from 500 emitters to 5000 and then 200,000 emitters.

The current technology produces 1.6 newtons of thrust per square meter of thruster but the theoretical limit is 10 Kilonewtons. The future thruster would enable a pair of centimeter-sized thrusters to provide orbital station-keeping for the International Space Station.

If the thrust scales with the emitters then the 200k device would have 400 times the thrust or about 640 newtons per square meter.

Accion Systems just raised $11 million in Series B funding. The round is being co-led by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Shasta Ventures. The Series B round brings Accion’s total funding to date to $36 million, which includes $14 million in U.S. Dept. of Defense and NASA contracts. The new capital will be used to ramp up production of Accion’s next-generation product and to expand hiring.

Accion Systems has a number of launches already scheduled for 2020, including collaborations with student organizations at the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program in Irvine, CA and BeaverCube, an educational mission led by MIT to introduce University students to aerospace science and technology through designing a 3U CubeSat.

The eventual TILE 200k would have a dry mass of 16kg and its Isp would be 1500-2000 seconds. This is 4 to 5 times more fuel-efficient than chemical rockets. It uses electrospray thrusters.