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Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Vol. 36, Nos.

9–10, 2000

CRYOGENIC ENGINEERING, PRODUCTION AND USE OF INDUSTRIAL GASES
FILLING AND STORAGE OF CRYOGENIC PROPELLANT COMPONENTS COOLED BELOW BOILING POINT IN ROCKET TANKS AT ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE

V. I. Fedorov and É. A. Luk’yanova

UDC 629.764:629.119.5

Low temperature of surfaces of tanks containing cryogenic propellant components gives rise to intense heat and mass exchange with the surroundings. This, in turn, causes frost and ice formation on the outer surfaces of the tanks and temperature-wise layering and local or bulk boiling of the propellant inside the tanks and filled pipelines with formation of substantial amounts of vapor. If the propellant components being used have temperatures below the air liquefaction temperature, the propellant condenses on the tank surface. In order to prevent or reduce the effect of the above-referred factors, the surface of the tanks and pipelines filled with the cryogenic propellant is packed with heat insulators. Substantial reduction of heat influx into the cryogenic components achievable this way often makes it possible to improve the energy and mass characteristics of the article, especially when components cooled below their boiling point at atmospheric pressure (hereafter “cooled” propellant components) are used, to enhance the reliability of the technological operations for preparing the article for launch as well as for draining the propellant out in case the operation is held up (not undertaken) and in unforeseen situations. Substantial reduction of heat influx into the cryogenic components in heat-insulated tanks allows one to introduce several technological measures to ensure storage of the propellant at the required temperature level. A major technological measure that ensures the required temperature of the cryogenic propellant in the tanks is filling at a set temperature at the tank inlet when the tanks are filled with “cooled” propellant components. This temperature is maintained by devices of the ground filling system developed on the basis of specific data of the space rocket complex. Essentially the following procedures of filling of the propellant tanks of carrier rockets (CR) and booster units (BU) with cryogenic components are used: filling by feeding the liquid into the lower part of the tank, into the upper part of the tank, or by a combination of these two filling procedures. Filling from “below” is generally done when a boiling cryogenic component is used. In this procedure, as the filling of the tank progresses, the filled part of the structure undergoes cooling due to evaporation of a part of the propellant, because of which it becomes necessary to release the vapor such that a set pressure level is maintained in the tank. If during filling of the tank with the boiling component and during subsequent resting of the tank there is no need for maintaining an excess pressure in the tank, filling is done with open vent (drainage) lines. This filling procedure was used for the carrier rockets Énergiya (units A), Vostok (East), and Soyuz (Union), and for the orbital spacecraft Buran (Blizzard). Filling with open vents may be done also when “cooled” propellant components are used for attaining the desired temperature in the rocket tanks more efficiently right after they are filled. In this case, a warmed-up upper liquid layer is created to prevent inleakage of air from the surroundings and possible buckling (collapse) of the tank upon fall of pressure in the tank below the atmospheric on account of cooling and condensation of the vapor from the gas cushion on the drops and surface of the liquid when the liquid splashes due to wind fluctuations. A covering warmed-up layer is created at the start of filling by feeding into the tank a fixed portion of the propellant having the saturation temperature at or above atmospheric pressure. After creation of the covering layer in the tank, filling is RKK Énergiya (Space Rocket Corporation Energy). Translated from Khimicheskoe i Neftegazovoe Mashinostroenie, No. 10, pp. 12–15, October, 2000. 584 0009-2355/00/0910-0584$25.00 ©2000 Plenum Publishing Corporation

The rate. In that event. to a “geyser effect. other conditions remaining the same as in the preceding one. in general. the feeding of liquid oxygen was started at an initial rate that ensured relatively slow filling and maintenance of the liquid level in the lower part of the tunnel pipeline throughout the entire time of cooling of the delivery pipes. The temperature control scheme with feeding of the liquid into the upper part of the oxidizer tanks was first developed and applied in the first. by switching the circulation of the components over to the “ring” (cycle) of the ground system. during filling of the tunnel pipeline and lower bottom of the tank. B. in the carrier rocket Énergiya. and ~78. the weighted mean oxygen and hydrogen temperatures were kept at the end of temperature control in the unit 6SL at ~85 and ~18. presence of a long tunnel-type pipeline with associated masses of delivery pipes and a turbopump unit of the engine may give rise. Feeding of the cold cryogenic liquid into the upper part of the tank and draining of the warmer liquid out from the lower part of the tank. the required temperature of the “cooled” propellant components is maintained. which ensures more uniform cooling of the tank structures. the filling rate is increased and gaseous helium is fed into the tunnel pipeline.5 K in the tanks of the unit E.” Feeding of the liquid into the upper part of the tank makes it possible to uniformly distribute the temperature fields across the height in the liquid and gas space of the tank by the time filling comes to an end and is applied essentially when a “cooled” cryogenic liquid is used. under certain circumstances. Precooling of these associated masses precludes entry into the tunnel pipeline (during its subsequent filling) of large quantities of vapor and overheated liquid. the amount of gas removable through the vent diminishes substantially because the component evaporatable on the tank surfaces condenses on the liquid jets. For instance. Feeding of the cold cryogenic liquid into the lower part of the tank and draining the warmer liquid out from the upper part of the tank. When the filled tanks of the rocket are in the resting state. conditions.” For the same purpose. 2. Diminishes as well the number of operations of the fittings in the vent line. and time of filling depend on the tactical and technical needs and the schedule for preparing the rocket for launch as well as on the structural features of the tank. Two liquid temperature control systems are used on the rockets already developed and those under development: 1. the liquid passes through a header or an array of headers onto the wall and into the gas space of the tank.started at propellant temperatures much below the boiling point at atmospheric pressure. Filling by feeding the “cooled” cryogenic liquid into the upper part of the tank was applied on the booster space unit E and also for partial filling of the tanks of the carrier rocket 11A52 with the oxidizer to prevent buckling of the tanks due to uncontrollable processes of cooling and condensation of the gas in the tank space not filled with the liquid during possible shaking of the rocket under wind stress and equalization of the temperature field at the moment of completion of filling. the entire heat from the structure being cooled. Technology of this type was applied for the carrier rocket Énergiya to fill the tanks of the central unit with liquid hydrogen and oxygen “cooled” to 15–17 K and 78–80 K. which reduces the probability of appearance of “geyser effect. in this case. respectively. the external heat flow into the liquid. In the carrier rocket Énergiya. The weighted mean oxygen temperature in the first articles (units) of N1–L3 was: ~82 K in the oxidizer tanks of the units A. In this scheme. Later. and third stages of carrier rockets and the space units D and E of the complex N1–L3. For rockets having horizontally placed cylindrical or conical tanks. the liquid separates in layers across the height (it is colder in 585 . To prevent these phenomena. turbopump unit.5 K and in the unit 1L at ~83 and ~18 K.” followed by hydraulic shock and failure of the tunnel pipeline. In this case. under near-steady conditions almost an identical temperature corresponding to the weighted mean is established throughout the liquid body. which allowed unhindered withdrawal of 2000 m3 of vapor. this scheme was also applied for control of oxygen and hydrogen temperatures in the tanks of the central stage of the carrier rocket Énergiya. However. and at this very temperature the liquid is drained out from the tank. When filling is done by feeding the liquid into the upper part of the tank. by controlling the temperature of the cryogenic liquid right in the rocket tanks. and C. under steady temperature control conditions the liquid temperature at the tank outlet (when the liquid is fed into the lower part of the tank) corresponds to the temperature as in the first scheme. However. second. and the excess heat from the gas of the excess pressure maintenance system are used for weighted mean heating of the liquid. where the oxidizer tank of the central unit was filled through a long vertical tunnel-type pipeline (L/D = 77). this is important for reducing thermal stresses and strains which may be quite significant in long tanks filled from “below. the weighted mean temperature of the liquid in the tank is lowered and maintained in a fixed range during resting of the filled tanks by feeding the liquid into the tank. If the cooling power of the ground temperature control system exceeds the heat influx into the tank. and other immersed structural units of the engines. and as the minimally permissible temperature is attained. respectively. This temperature control scheme was also applied to reduce the temperature in the oxygen tank of the integrated propulsion system of the spacecraft Buran because for additional cleaning of the tank from impurities filling was done with boiling oxygen.

The ground launching complexes are provided with specially designed units for additional cooling and prelaunch preparation is made by applying improved filling technology and setting time limits to resting of filled tanks. In this case. because of which it becomes necessary either to introduce a special operation for agitating (mixing) the component or to widen the working range of the temperature at the inlet of the engine during its operation.e. whereas in the second scheme the heat is removed from the tank because the temperature of the liquid drained out from the upper layers is higher than the weighted mean. An example of such a case is use of the DM-SL type of booster unit in the program for launching the Zenit-3SL space rocket complex by the “Morskoi Start” (Sea Launch) program.e. Upon completion of filling. In the first temperature control scheme. warming up of the liquid during filling can be reduced roughly by 1. and the time assigned in the technological schedule to ensure the desired temperature of the components is short. Before changing the direction of the streams. This made it possible to improve energy and mass characteristics of the article (rocket) and at the same time to reduce material consumptions for prestart preparation of the rocket for launch through shortening of time of operation with liquid hydrogen by no less than one hour. Temperature control was started roughly 25 min before the launch. which is a modification of the DM type of booster unit. because of structural peculiarities of the rocket. the oxygen at the outlet of the ground system was cooled further (by ~3–4°C) by ejecting nitrogen from the heat exchanger (the oxygen cooler). In the booster unit DM-SL. The temperature control method involving draining out from the upper part of the tank is particularly effective when the cooling power of the ground part of temperature control is slightly greater than the heat influx into the tank(s). this measure was still not enough to resolve this problem fully. By switching over to the new filling system. the tank was proposed to be filled in the same way as in the DM type of booster unit: by feeding the cooled oxygen into the upper part of the tank through the temperature control header. Such a temperature control method made it possible to obtain a uniform temperature field in liquid hydrogen (where bubbling of the liquid with helium is inapplicable) and to lower the weighted mean liquid temperature in the tank to ~17. To improve the energy and mass characteristics of the hydrogen tank of the central unit of the carrier rocket Énergiya. i. the second temperature control method does not ensure uniform temperature throughout the tank. In that event. Of special interest for ensuring the set “cooled” temperature of the cryogenic component is the case where. especially if the temperature control is brief. However. with feeding of hydrogen through the top and middle headers placed respectively in the gas cushion of the tank and in the middle of the warm layer providing a shield from condensation during temperature control. by feeding colder hydrogen through the filling line and draining warm hydrogen out through a header sunk under the liquid level. i. external heat influx. However. by feeding oxygen into the lower part of the tank. starting with the unit 5S. and heat from the helium fed by the excess pressure maintenance system goes to warm up the entire liquid mass..5 K. However. only the temperature at the tank inlet during filling exerts an active influence on the temperature conditions for the start of the engine. the heat gained by the upper layer during filling spreads throughout the liquid body.. In this case. which makes it possible to get a lower weighted mean temperature than in the preceding scheme.the lower part). the oxygen temperature at the time of launching of the rocket will correspond to the operational range. temperature control was begun by the second method. it became necessary to develop measures that would ensure under these conditions an oxygen temperature at the moment of launching of the carrier rocket which is not higher than the temperature range worked out for summer use of the DM type of booster unit. the feed of the system for maintaining an excess pressure in the tank was switched from gaseous hydrogen to helium. because it is impossible to control oxygen temperature due to structural peculiarities of coupling of the booster unit with the carrier rocket. “cooled” hydrogen was fed into the lower part of the tank. In order to bring the temperature closer to this range. when the temperature in the tank does not attain the steady state. The performed analysis of the possibility of perfecting the technology of filling operations on the DM-SL booster unit revealed real possibility of lowering the temperature of the oxygen in the tank by a change in the scheme of oxygen feeding during filling. In the previously adopted technology.5°C through evaporation of oxygen and release of vapors through the vent valve from the gas space of the tank. the combined temperature control method (“reversible temperature control”) was applied. it is impossible to control the temperature right in the rocket tank. heavier (than working pressurizing gas) hydrogen-helium gas layer which sinks below the liquid surface during the flight and prevents condensation during pressurization by a single component. but a covering boiling layer was first created at the beginning of feeding. and the temperature at the tank inlet is set not only with due regard for warming up of the component during the flight but also for warming up during filling and resting of the filled tanks. in this filling scheme a large part of the heat of the tank structure. Such a method is energy-efficient. Such reversing of streams of the liquid being fed and drained was necessary for cooling the upper liquid layer and creating a cold. because of which more stringent demands are made on the technology of preparation of the space rocket complex for launch. This makes it possible to remove from the tank a substantial portion of the heat of the tank struc586 .

Fig. 1. let us note that when cryogenic “cooled” liquids are used as propellant components. Schemes for filling of the tank “O” of the booster unit DM-SL: a) adopted and b) proposed. 587 . reaching as high as ~20°C. With reference to the discussed technology. with the major part of the heat imported into the liquid during filling getting concentrated in the upper layer of the liquid. In Fig. 1. which is unacceptable from the point of engine operation. However. tests were performed on a cold bench booster unit. q) before start of bubbling and t) at the ture and to reduce the total heat influx because of incomplete wetting of the walls of the cryogenic liquid tank in the filling process and lowering of the proportion of heat imported by helium during operation of the excess pressure maintenance system. The new filling technology has been introduced in the booster unit DM-SL. The adopted and proposed tank filling schemes are shown in Fig. in addition to improvement in the energy and mass characteristics of the articles (rockets). Temperature fields in liquid oxygen: moment of completion of filling. the technological and design solutions elucidated in this article make it possible. 2. to enhance the reliability of preparation of the rockets for launch and to maintain the temperature of the cryogenic propellant components at the engine inlet within a fixed range. which confirmed that lowering of “cooled” oxygen temperature is effective when filling is done from “below. In concluding. Fig. in such a filling method the liquid temperature field is rendered significantly uneven across the tank height. That is why measures are needed to equalize the temperature by bubbling the liquid with gaseous helium. 2 (as an example) we have shown the liquid temperature field in the tank before the start of helium feeding for bubbling and at the moment of completion of filling and bubbling.” and conditions and consumption of helium for bubbling were chosen.