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Feasibility Study and Demonstration of an Aluminum and Ice Solid Propellant
Tyler D. Wood1, Mark A. Pfeil2, Timothee L. Pourpoint3, John Tsohas4, and Steven F. Son5 Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, USA T.L. Connell, Jr6, Grant A. Risha7 and Richard A. Yetter8 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802, USA Aluminum-water reactions have been proposed and studied for several decades for underwater propulsion systems, and other applications such as hydrogen generation. Aluminum and water has also been proposed as a propellant and there have been proposals for other refrigerated propellants that could be mixed, frozen in place and used as solid propellants. However, little work has been done to determine the feasibility of these concepts. With the recent availability of nano-scale aluminum (nAl), a simple binary formulation of nAl and water is now plausible. Nano-sized aluminum has a lower ignition temperature than micron-sized aluminum particles, partly due to its high surface area, and burning times are much faster than micron Al. We have previously reported that frozen nAl and ice mixtures considered are stable, as well as insensitive to electrostatic discharge, impact and shock. Here we report a study of the feasibility of a nAl-ice propellant in smallscale rocket experiments. The focus here is not to develop an optimized propellant, however improved formulations are possible and could be explored in future work. Several static motor experiments have been conducted, including using a flight-weight casing. In this flight-weight test the grain configuration was 6.75” long, 3” outside diameter, with a 1” center perforation. It produced a peak 500lbf of thrust at 1650 psi. The flight weight casing will be used in the first sounding rocket test of an aluminum-ice propellant soon. Nomenclature a,n Ab At c* Dt dt ISP g m pc rb W = = = = = = = = = = = = = propellant burning rate coefficients burning area throat area characteristic velocity throat diameter time increment specific impulse gravity mass mass flow rate chamber pressure burning rate web thickness
Graduate Student, Mechanical Engineering, 500 Allison Road, Chaffee Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, Email: email@example.com. AIAA Member. 2 Graduate Student, Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering, Purdue University, 3 Research Assistant Professor, Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University, Senior AIAA Member 4 Graduate Student, Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering, Purdue University, AIAA Member 5 Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics & Astronautics (courtesy), Purdue University, AIAA Member 6 Graduate Student, Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, AIAA Member 7 Assistant Professor, Division of Business and Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona College, AIAA Member 8 Professor, Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, AIAA Member
1 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Copyright © 2009 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.
the kinetics of bulk aluminum would not yield complete reaction. are relatively non-toxic. Many of the advantages listed for these particles are shorter ignition delay. Risha et al. also proposed the idea of adding hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to increase performance.12. making it a “green” propellant8. Using nAl has been shown to produce a significant increase in performance of propellants2. found that stoichiometric mixtures of nAl-water propellant have a pressure dependence of around 0. Indeed. A II. The properties and recent availability of nano-scale aluminum (nAl) has motivated research of material. In 1942. Researchers showed that replacing 50µm particles with the same amount of nominally 100nm particles in AP-based propellants could result in a burning rate increase of up to 100%4. and pressures. and rheology difficulties. While the 2 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics .16 reported the earliest combustion work with nanoaluminum and water.2 (Expansion ratio of 100). which may explain the different observations. over various expansion ratios. A typical AP-based solid rocket propellant has vacuum ISP values ranging from 260 s to 300 s15. ISP. Another objective was to develop larger scale (kilogram scale) mixing procedures that produce a consistent material. 7. Small motors are expected to have much lower measured ISP values. Mixtures of stoichiometric mixtures of aluminum and water were considered. thus replacing the inert low-energy gellants. The burning rate has been characterized for these propellants in a strand burner. 14. which proposed to use seawater and aluminum to provide the propulsion for a submarine. electrostatic discharge (ESD) sensitivity when dry. Even work done by Leibowitz et al. This was evident by work done by Elgert et al. Ivanov et al.47 and have densities of around 1. 9. Other research has been conducted pairing this increased reactivity of nAl with less reactive oxidizers such as water in addition to conventional oxidizers6. Nano-scale aluminum can dramatically increase the reaction rates of aluminum and water. Introduction LUMINUM powder is a common ingredient in conventional rocket propellant to increase specific impulse. who tried igniting the aluminum with a laser. as well as stability.1 discussed the potential use of nano-sized powders for rocket propulsion in a recent paper.8 produced a paper discussing the potential uses for an aluminumwater mixture for space propulsion. they calculated specific impulse. However only 0. faster burn times. Ingenito et al. Rasor10 filed a patent. Using the NASA CEA equilibrium code. While thermodynamically this reaction would be viable. The vacuum ISP was calculated over 300s. Risha et al. in that potentially propellants could be made in situ from available water and aluminum. Ingenito et al. A classical mixer and a newly available Resodyn mixer were considered. There have also been several studies investigating the use of micron sized Al powders with water for purpose of underwater propulsion13. at an O/F typically around 1.ε ρp φ = thickness of alumina deposit = propellant density = mixture ratio Subscript in = in out = out p = propellant I. In 2004. For example.2% of the aluminum reacted. found that if the melting temperature of the aluminum oxide was not reached.3. Background While widely available bulk commercial nAl has only recently been developed. the water-aluminum reaction has been of considerable interest since at least the 1940’s. Most of these characteristics can be attributed to the high specific surface area1. The objectives of this paper are to present recent results of nAl/ice (ALICE) small-scale static experiments. O/F ratios. ISP. mainly H2 and Al2O3.5 g/cc. greater than that of most solid propellants. many other propellant formulations are possible.11 that used U235 to melt the aluminum. 5. even though temperatures reached 2200°F. The nanoaluminum used likely had a higher surface area than previously used. Aluminum and water propellants may prove to be suited for deep space exploration. The mass and linear burning rates are much faster than those of advanced propellants17. an ignition would not occur. They reported that they needed 3% polyacrylamide to thicken (or gel) the water or the nAl-water reaction would not occur without the gelling agent16. Trajectory simulations have also been made for the flight of the sounding rocket to be flown this summer. the products of this propellant. Also. Recent results of the static experiments are also compared against internal ballistic predictions. In 2006. The possible disadvantages of nAl are the reduction in active aluminum content. Kuo et al. and the possibility to act like a gelling agent.17 reported combustion of nAl and water for the first time without the use of a gelling agent.
This is used by the nAl manufacturers. Dokhan et al. and a subsequent lack in performance using a mixture of nanoscale and micron aluminum.5”. Nanoscale aluminum in liquid water will oxidize. ResoDyn LabRAM resonating mixer 3 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . Complementary testing has also been conducted at Penn State. and an inner diameter of 0.18 performed several experiments to characterize a nAl-water propellant. with no indication of damage to the witness plate18. New York) DPM-1Q dual planetary mixer or by hand. nAlwater can have a short shelf life. Sippel et al. Montanta) LabRAM resonating mixer (Fig. inconstancies in mixing and packing densities motivated other approaches. with a center-perforated configuration that shows promising results (also reported in these proceedings).25” and 0..19 estimates that active aluminum content of micron aluminum is 99.75” and 1. Once found. Recent testing has also been performed with a 3” motor using a hand-mixed grain that compares fairly well with results presented below. the alumina layer accounts for more of the mass. Due to the smaller size of the aluminum particles (from micron to nano). such as Novacentrix Inc. Sippel et al. while dry 200µm AP had a drop height of 38. The outer diameter of the grain was 86mm. In addition.22. Shock sensitivity was performed to determine whether the propellant would propagate a detonation wave. Even with this passivation. This was a significant increase from the previous findings that had a value less then 10% after the same time period in liquid water18. Mixing Techniques Early mixtures in this work were obtained using a Ross (Charles Ross & Son Company. 1) is currently being used to mix the ALICE propellant. and to extend shelf life. This helped explain the 1. the active aluminum content was unchanged within the uncertainty of the measurement. 20. The LabRAM mixer operates by applying a force to the system being mixed and varying the frequency at which that force is applied until the resonant frequency of the system being mixed is found. The results displayed the stability of the frozen propellant using 80nm nAl.5cm. One method to increase the shelf life is to freeze the aluminum water mixture to form ALICE. 21. the pressure exponents were similar. modeling the procedure by Cliff et al. Non-pyrophoric aluminum powders have a passivation layer of alumina. at SNPE. Butte. The oxide layer does not add to the energy produced by the particle. Analysis of the slag showed that an estimated 17% of the initial aluminum did not participate in the reaction. with an inner perforation diameter of 60mm.5” respectively. The density and viscosity of the system will change as it mixes causing the resonant frequency of the system and the energy put into the mixture (measured by the acceleration level) to change. The total mass of the grain using a combination of micron and nanoscale aluminum was measured at 550g. Safety testing was also performed on the experimental propellant18. Motors with outer diameters 0. Pressure readings were estimated and recorded for the test. regardless the amount of excess water. All of these tests show that nAl/ice is a very insensitive propellant. and a length of 157mm. However. Impact sensitivity testing showed that a mixture of frozen nAl using nominally 80nm powders and water (ALICE) had a drop height greater then the capacity of the experiment apparatus (>2. on the order of weeks.2meters). and Argonide Corp. 17. A Resodyn (Resodyn Acoustic Mixer Inc. to prevent pyrophoric ignition with air. III. when exposed to moist air due to its high affinity for oxidizers18. Franson et al. Figure 1. the system continues to apply a force at that frequency at the user specified intensity (ranging from 0 to 100)24. ESD testing showed that stoichiometric ALICE (80nm nAl) had an energy threshold greater than 1. Post inspection of the motor revealed large amounts of alumina residue in the chambers.21. This inert alumina shell inversely affects the performance of the mixture5. found that over the course of six months. This suggests that the propellant has the same dependence on pressure.burning rate for a fuel-lean mixture was lower than a stoichiometric mixture. and the active aluminum content decreases with the size of the particles and the increase in oxide passivation layer thickness. Hauppauge. Sippel et al. The mixer is designed to track the resonant frequency of the system and make changes to the mixing frequency while mixing to match the resonant frequency. In previous work by our group.5J.6MPa pressure observed in contrast to the 3MPa expected pressure. over one thousand times the amount of energy typically released in a human ESD event. performed perhaps the first work on the implementation of ALICE in a rocket motor configuration. we examined aging issues of aluminum and water.18 showed that nAl and water stored at -25C. retained the original active aluminum content after 40 days. have given thrust and chamber pressure readings that are repeatable23.5% or better. while oxide passivated nano-aluminum typically ranges from 50% to 95%18.
Images of various stages of mixing: a) Mixing consistency after first cycle. This new mixing method and other improvements will be explored more fully in the future and incorporated into the mixing of the ALICE grain. 4 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . b) Mixing consistency after second cycle. 2. c) Mixing consistency after final cycle.The changes of acceleration and frequency provide important information of the stage of how mixed the propellant is. 2 and 3(b). These bags were inserted into an ice bath within a solid container. the bags were removed and inspected visually to determine if they were uniformly mixed. The properties of the propellant reach a uniform state—in other words the propellant is fully mixed—when the acceleration and the frequency finally level off for a period of time. The ice bath was used to keep the propellant at low temperatures to inhibit undesired reactions. (a) (b) (c) Figure 2. After mixing at one minute intervals. These changes can be seen in Fig. These bags were then combined in the grain case while being vibrated and packed after which the grain was placed in the freezer. 3(b). This can be seen in Fig. ALICE initially starts out as de-ionized water and aluminum powder (80nm from Novacentrix) and begins to form clumps until it becomes a uniform paste like (gelled) substance. while the acceleration exhibits a general continual increase. well-formed and consistent grains can be obtained. Mixing procedures are still being refined at this time in hopes of making mixing quicker and easier while eliminating any variance in propellant consistency. the frequency of the mixer increases for a while during the mix and then drops. The unmixed propellant was originally placed in taped plastic bags as mixing with Resodyn mixer began. Typically. Traces from the Resodyn mixer: a) Acceleration and frequency of consecutive multiple mixing cycles. Using this method. (a) (b) Figure 3. This method has eliminated leaks and made it possible to observe the acceleration and frequency more consistently to determine when the mixture is mixed. b) Acceleration and frequency of single mixing cycle of near-constant intensity. The contents within the bag were always inspected for consistency and eliminated if apparent variations in propellant characteristics were found. A sample of the acceleration and frequency output from a bag mix can be seen in Fig. 3(a). Six or more bags were needed to mix all of the propellant for an ALICE rocket grain depending on the length of the desired grain. A method was developed recently in which a smaller container was placed within an ice bath in a larger container. The problem with the bags is that they can sometimes leak or break. These changes occur due to variance of the propellant properties throughout mixing. Those are the results shown on Figs.
Burning rate data of ALICE propellant mixed with the ResoDyn mixer is shown here. the bomb is pressurized with argon to a determined pressure. This passivation step lowered the active aluminum content by about 4% leading to an equivalence ratio closer to 0. The propellant became too thick to mix effectively with the Ross mixer. Prior to combustion.71 and providing for a less reactive propellant. Measurements are repeated for a series of pressures and a power law is used to fit a burning rate as a function of pressure. safety concerns related to the reactive nature of the nano-aluminum powder led to the decision of passivating the powder in air for two days prior to mixing. Fuel-lean mixtures had an overall decrease in burning rate when compared to stoichiometric mixtures. Mixing procedures used with the Resodyn mixer have evolved and improved throughout this project. This viscous behavior prompted the current ALICE mixtures to be fuel-lean with an target equivalence ratio. which is somewhat larger pressure dependency then the Al-water propellant tested by Risha et al. These challenges could be overcome by using a powder with less surface area.17 Figure 4. since several modifications have been made to the mixing procedure since results found by Sippel et al. but Risha et al. It is important to quantify changes in the burning rate. Burning Rate Measurements Technique and Results In previous work with the Ross dual planetary mixer.57. stoichiometric mixtures proved to be too viscous for the size of nAl used. Again. The samples are tested in a high-pressure combustion bomb. The pressure exponent for this mixing procedure is 0. The control volume considered in this model takes into account the geometry of the grains tested in the battleship and flightweight configurations. the formulation studied here is far from optimum. φ.75. of 0. A video of the event is analyzed to determine the linear burning rate of the propellant. Future research with the ResoDyn resonating mixer will focus on mixing a stoichiometric mixture successfully. Propellant is loaded into 8 mm ID tubes and the samples are immediately frozen. Motor Performance Prediction An internal ballistics analysis of the combusting ALICE motor grain was developed using a lumped-parameter model. 4 is the burning rate of the propellant mixed in the resonating mixer.18 Strand burn experiments were performed using material from each mixing batch used to produce static fire grains.IV.75.17 did show similar pressure exponents for both the fuel-lean and stoichiometric mixtures. Initial procedures were developed based on the equivalence ratio of 0. Over 25 tests were performed and averaged in the results shown. Shown on Fig. These configurations are summarized in Table 1. During combustion the chamber pressure is recorded by a data acquisition system. However. V. 5 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics .
Combining Eqs. Equation 3 can then be solved for the chamber pressure using St-Robert’s burning rate law. (4) Since neither end of the grain is inhibited. based on previous experimental results reported in the literature25 and theoretical performance calculations. (2) . (3) . a simple deposition model is included in the analysis. therefore. A final simplifying assumption included in both variants of the model is that the total impulse and mass flow rate produced by the igniter are negligeable compared to that of the ALICE grain.36 5 0. Further. since post-test examination of the experimental hardware reveals alumina deposition on the throat and the expansion section of the nozzle. rb = aPcn. 1 and 2 with the conservation of mass equation under steady state conditions leads to. combustion and flow losses in the combustion chamber and through the nozzle are evaluated with model. performance losses are included by reducing the nominal propellant characteristic velocity and specific impulse values until a resonable agreement with the experimental data is obtained.71 and a characteristic velocity of 1360 m/s.52 While a simple approach.75 Casing Dimensions Chamber Nozzle Length Throat [in] Diameter [in] 5 0. The results presented below include that of two variants of the model. all exposed surfaces in the control volume are assumed to contribute to amount of mass produced by the combustion of the propellant. The ALICE propellant formulation assumed in the model has an equivalence ratio of 0. It is used to predict the maximum thrust and chamber pressure prior to experimental testing of a new grain or chamber geometry.42 7 0. In the second variant. In the first variant. the mass flow exiting the nozzle is given by. Furthermore. specific impulse of 210 s is assumed for the thurst calculations. At any given instant in a lumped-parameter model.3 for the 7” long grains and. the pressure variations along the chamber length can be neglected15. The thickness of the alumina deposit is assumed to increase linearly with time up to the deposit thickness measured upon examination of the hardware. the model is used to predict the peak chamber pressure and thrust developed by the ALICE grains and to indicate the history of both parameters based on the measured burning rate and the geometry of the grain. the assumptions inherent to a lumped-parameter model are quite appropriate in the present application as the grains tested had low aspect ratios L/D ranging from 1. . 6 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics .5 ~5 ~6. Instead. while propellant and motor parameters are adjusted in the model. Second. Aluminum and Ice Grain Geometries Tested to Date at Purdue University Grain Dimensions Test 1 to 3 4 to 5 6 Outer Diameter [in] 3 3 3 Inner Bore Diameter [in] 1 1 1 Length [in] ~3. The validity of this assumption is discussed below. detail accounting of potentially important twophase flow losses or nozzle flow losses is not within the scope of the present study.2 for the 3. (1) . These losses are taken into account in two ways: first.5” long grains to 2. Conversely. the ALICE grain burning surface area is a function of the grain outer and inner bore diameter and the grain length as given by.Table 1. the aforementioned propellant characteristics and nozzle geometries are assumed as nominal.
The second model variant reflects the previously mentioned performance losses and the alumina deposition on the nozzle according to Eq. with both Ri and L functions of the web thickness consumed normal to the local burn surface. a peak chamber pressure of ~2100 psi is calculated with both variants of the model. 1 or 2 and . Modeling results for the 6. 1 to 7 using a method of Euler numerical integration with an adequately small time step (typically 1 ms). (8) where. 5 for a 5” long ALICE grains. However. 8. Calculated chamber pressure and thrust for 5” long ALICE grain As shown on Fig. 5. W. (7) Both variants of the lumped parameter model incorporate Eqs.75” long ALICE grain are provided below along with the experimental data. The web thickness. the peak pressure obtained with the second variant follows a longer chamber pressurization period and 7 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . ε is the thickness of the alumina deposit measured around the circumference of the nozzle throat. .. The chamber pressure and thrust profiles calculated with both variants of the model are shown in Fig. can therefore be defined as the integral of the burning rate history as given by (5) (6) The theoretical mass flow rate and thrust can then be calculated based on Eqs. Figure 5.
The reported ISP of 178s is not unexpected for small motors such as these. However. The test cell for the static tests has a remote control room. where experiments are monitored and initiated. therefore a thick steel “battleship” motor casing is used (see Fig.000 psi. the ALICE propellant combustion does not perform well at pressures less than 1000 psi. As listed in Table 3. to ensure a sufficient factor of safety. This delay is a result of the reduced characteristic velocity. Pressure and thrust are recorded using LabView. (Druck (a division of GE Electrics). The main modeling results obtained for a 5” long grain are summarized in Table 2. and a 16-bit National Instruments. Table 2. MA) with a 0. assumed to be 85% of nominal in the second model variant.25% full-scale accuracy. The battleship casing is attached horizontally to the metal stand frame. At least two video cameras are used to observe and record the experiments. the Aerotech H180 motor has a total impulse of 218 N-s or about 15% of the total 8 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . Similar observations resulting from calculations with longer grains are presented below. constraints in the design of the flight-weight casing influenced the operating pressure of ALICE to be below 3000 psi. This casing has been sized to withstand internal pressures exceeding 5. Also shown on Fig. As illustrated by the computional results outlined above. the igniter of choice in all test configurations was a commercially available Aerotech H180 motor26. Billerica. These bolts are designed to fail around 3200 psi so over-pressurization does not result in the failure of the casing. Arizona). the same bolts were selected to secure the ALICE motor assembly together. which transfers the thrust produced by the engine to a 1000 lbf load cell (Interface. ALICE Battleship Static Thrust Stand Experiments Several static rocket tests have been conducted in the Purdue University Propulsion laboratory.occurs a quarter of a second later than with the first variant. nozzle throat diameter is varied to provide a nominal goal pressure of 1500-2000 psi peak pressure. Figure 6. Scottsdale. 6). To eliminate an additional variable between the battleship tests and the flight-weight tests. One camera monitors the outside where the plume is expelled. recording at 300 fps. With the anticipation that fluctuation in mixing and casting will cause variations in performance. The peak pressures calculated with both variants are almost identical as a result of the assumed alumina deposition model. Chamber pressure is measured using two PMP 1260 diaphragm pressure transducers. The metal framing is attached to a pair of flexures. 5 is the reduction in peak thrust from ~450 lbf to ~400 lbf from the first to the second variant of the model. This reduction is the result of the lower specific impulse value assumed in the second variant of the model. Image of the battleship motor casing Following a few experimental tests with various igniter motor sizes. monitors the side profile of the exhaust plume. and another high-speed camera. the lumped parameter model provides the information necessary to prepare static test fires of ALICE grains of increasing length. 32 channel data acquisition system. Based on the strand burn tests. A summary of the motor specifications of interest in the present study is provided in Table 3. Modeling summary for 5” long grain Model Assumptions No losses for 5" long grain With deposit & losses for 5" long grain Total Impulse [N-s] 1484 1336 Peak Pc [psi] 2130 2150 Peak Thrust [lbf] 445 400 VI.
the length of the grain was increased to 5” to provide more thrust and better approximate the scale required for the future sounding rocket. Second.5 217. Comparison of 5” long ALICE motor tests with lumped parameter models Although the two tests are not precisely replicated. The experimental results of the two tests performed with 5” long grains (Test 4 & 5) are presented and compared with the modeling results in Fig.5” long grains.5” long grains.impulse predicted with the first variant of the lumped parameter model for a 5” long ALICE grain (Table 2). First. Following three successful tests with the 3.0 23. but that is beyond the scope of this study.0 228.7 1. the selected igniter size is necessary for reliable and fast ignition of the ALICE formulation evaluated in the present study. Table 3. the length and packing densities of both 5” long grains varied by 2. the pressure rise on both tests are extremely similar. there are several key points to note. Aerotech H180 Motor Specifications26 Parameter Value Unit Outer Diameter Total Length Total Weight Propellant Weight Average thrust Maximum Thrust Total Impulse Burn Time Isp 29. Figure 7. Aluminum 9 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics .8 252 124 180. While a smaller igniter would be highly desirable.3 178 mm cm g g N N N-s s s Several tests have been performed with the battleship motor. The required igniter could be minimized and formulations could be developed that dramatically decrease the ignition energy required. 7 and Table 4 below. The results of these tests are not presented herein for conciseness.3% and 4. Initial testing started with 3.25 inches longer than the second one.8% respectively with the first 5”-class grain about 0.
gases expand in the ALICE casing and exit the nozzle as a dark smoke. it is believed that ALICE begins to burn in the second picture. Flight tests are necessary to study conditions that can not be duplicated in a test cell such as the effect of rocket acceleration on alumina agglomeration. 10 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . As the H-180 motor burns. While characterization and static tests have been proof of the concept. VII. the flame continues to increase in size until the peak pressure is reached. but it is reassuring to see that the rise in pressure is similar. The pressure and thrust decay rapidly following the consumption of the ALICE grain. This is evident from the sudden oscillatory change in thrust from the load cell. The experimental and modeling results obtained for the 5”-class grains are provided in Table 4 including the calculated total impulse values which are of particular interest for the souding rocket trajectory predictions. which indicated a steady burn. Table 4. and initial chamber pressureization. that has been consistent thoughout the battleship tests. and propellant grain structural integrity. Flight-weight Rocket Design A goal of the project is to demonstrate an ALICE powered sounding rocket. The first picture is the start of the igniter flame.agglomeration on the nozzle or variations in casting could explain the differences in peak pressure. In addition. Based on the recorded data (pressure & thrust). 8). Comparison of Modeling and Experimental Results for 5” long grains Model assuming no losses for 5" long grain Model with deposit & losses for 5" long grain Total Impulse [N-s] 1484 1336 Peak Pc [psi] 2130 2150 Peak Thrust [lbf] 445 400 5" long grain experimental results of Test 4 5" long grain experimental results of Test 5 970 890 2160 1700 480 350 An analysis of both videos shows a non-oscilatory plume (Fig. the experimental peak pressures and peak thursts compare well with the modeling results thus providing a increased level of confidence for performance prediction of longer grains. Plume image as recorded by the high-speed camera. this will be the first flight test implementing an ALICE propellant. Figure 8. As the pressure increases further.
at an altitude of 850 ft as shown in Fig. The entire length of the assembled rocket is about 8 feet 6 inches and the outside diameter is 4 inches. produced approximately 200 lbf of initial thrust. The motor ignited as planned.The ALICE flight-vehicle consists of an all-carbon-fiber. bringing the entire vehicle to a soft landing at 25 ft/sec as shown in Fig. IN. The carbon-fiber aerostructures (fuselage and fins) were able to withstand the propulsive and aerodynamic forces during the entire flight. 10. The drogue and main parachute recovery systems worked adequately by deploying at pre-determined altitudes and landing the vehicle intact. Appropriate approvals were obtained for this test and planned tests. The R-DAS units are pre-programmed to eject a drogue parachute at apogee and a main parachute at a pre-determined altitude. A test launch of the flight-vehicle was performed at a remote site located approximately 12 miles west of West Lafayette. 9 (b).5Gs as recorded by both on-board R-DAS flight computers.52). vacuum bagging is used to provide pressure on the composite layer assembly in order to remove any excess resin and improve bond strength. A plot of the R-DAS flight data (acceleration. The vehicle began descending at a rate of 57 ft/sec under the drogue parachute.400 N-sec for a burn time of 3 seconds. and after a 3. and to ensure aerodynamic stability throughout all phases of the flight. (a) (b) Figure 9. An ogive nose cone is placed on the forward end of the vehicle and three carbon-fiber fins are attached to the aft end in order to provide aerodynamic stability. and structural sub-systems were working properly. As soon as the R-DAS units detected apogee. 11(b).480 ft. successfully ejecting charges and logging flight data. approximately 1000 ft downrange of the launch area.8 second burn achieved a maximum velocity of 395 mph (Mach 0. Overall. velocity. minimum diameter. connected together by a carbon-fiber interstage coupler and an avionics bay which contain two redundant R-DAS (Rocket Data-Acquisition System) Tiny units (AED Electronics. Following the layup process. The main parachute deployed successfully. and the aerodynamic stability was good throughout the boost and coasting phases of the flight. 9(a). 11 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . recovery. The all-carbon-fiber flight-vehicle was powered by an Aerotech K780R commercial 75mm solid rocket motor. Images of the sounding rocket: a) Altimeter Bay with RDAS units. the drogue parachute ejection charges fired and the drogue parachute deployed as planned. The purpose of the launch was to verify that the avionics. and lifted the 23 lb vehicle with an initial acceleration of 6. 11(c). which took place in 18 seconds. and altitude) is presented in Fig. The vehicle successfully cleared the Mobile Launch Platform. The avionics systems worked as planned. The vehicle coasted to an apogee of 4. The fins are attached with carbon-fiber plain weave cloth by using a wet hand layup technique to apply the cloth from fin-tip to fin-tip. b) Exploded view of Mongoose 98 Rocket. 98mm high power rocketry kit which is composed of two fuselage sections. launch and recovery of the flight-vehicle went as planned. and at 85 seconds into the flight the main parachute ejection charge fired at a pre-programmed altitude of 700 ft. which produces an average total impulse of 2. An exploded view of the flight vehicle is shown in Fig. The Netherlands) as shown in Fig.
as well as ballistic flight in case the parachutes fail to open. Static and dynamic stability analysis is also being performed by using the RockSim code. the maximum expected radius of impact is being calculated for variable conditions (wind speed. launch tower angles. RockSim v.9 seconds. etc). Based on the thrust profile from the hot-fire test performed with the 7” long ALICE grain. propellant. variable thrust profiles. as well as the new flight-weight motor design. The simulations also predict a maximum acceleration of 16 G’s. The motor thrust profile.827 and PRO versions are used to predict the vehicle acceleration. velocity. temperature and other launch factors are inputted in the code as well. 12 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . interstage couplers. wind speeds. etc) that are used for range safety planning purposes. the simulations predict that the 30 lb mass flight-vehicle will depart the launch rail in 0. and a nominal altitude of 1. This figure shows the R-DAS flight-data from test launch of ALICE flight-vehicle powered by K780R motor. external carbon-fiber aerostructure. achieving an exit velocity of 67 ft/sec. Using Monte Carlo analysis. 12. Flights are only attempted for wind speeds less than 10 mph. tower launch angle. Extensive simulations are being performed to ensure vehicle stability at all Mach numbers and at varying atmospheric conditions. velocity of 187 mph (Mach 0. The code requires the input of mass and geometry parameters for each component (motor. Simulations are being run to estimate the landing location assuming successful parachute deployment.200 ft as shown in Fig. At the moment. The test flight also provided valuable data for validation and calibration of the RockSim27 Model Rocket Design & Simulation Software that is being used for performing simulations of the ALICE flight-vehicle. angle-of-attack and flight path for various flight-weight ALICE propulsion systems.24).Figure 10. altitude.
Bolts are threaded into steel threaded inserts located in the aluminum flange. test. 13 is built out of a solid piece of 7075-T6 aluminum. which could potentially cause changes in the mechanical properties of the aluminum. 13 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . c) Descent of rocket under main parachute Figure 12. and flight of an ALICE flight weight motor. Shown here is a trajectory simulation with thrust profile from 7” ALICE grain hot-fire tests (Test 6). Images above are from the flight test: a) Rocket on launch platform. The bolts are the same ones used on the battleship motor. attention has shifted to the design.(a) (b) (c) Figure 11. Following the successful launch of the sounding rocket with a K780 commercial motor. These steel inserts help to distribute the load evenly over the length of the thread. which were selected to fail at 3200 psi. This method is preferred over welding on flanges to the end of the casing. b) Liftoff of rocket. The flight weight motor shown schematically on Fig.
allowed for the first static test with the ALICE propellant. The resulting analysis showed a failure index of 0. Passing this test. 12”: right on top view – igniter end) based on 7075-T651 aluminum (bottom) 14 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . Schematic of the flight-weight motor casing A structural analysis of the flight-weight motor was performed. which held for several minutes.000 psi (Fig. 14).29 based on the tensile yield strength of aluminum 7075-T6 of 73. the vessel was hydro-tested. A solid mesh of 3512 elements and a 2000-psi internal load was applied to the 3-D ProMechanica© model. Water supplied an internal pressure of 2000psi. Figure 14.Figure 13. Upon completion of the casing. VonMises stress calculation (top) and failure index along internal casing length (0”: left on top view – nozzle end.
The experimental results obtained with the first flight-weight grain are presented and compared with the modeling results in Fig. characteristic velocity and specific impulse losses. Comparison of 7” long ALICE motor test with lumped parameter models As with the two 5” grains.75”.32 s. capturing these performance metrics provides an indication of an attainable ISP of 210. however. both time points are selected based on events occurring during the test as indicated by small thrust spikes observed on the experimental data. based on predictions. It is encouraging. Despite the simplifying assumptions in the model. 15 and Table 5 below.36 s while the end of the burn is set at a time of 1. The first test used a grain length of 6. Figure 15. The specific impulse for the 6. the poor combustion efficiency of the current propellant formulation greatly reduces the total impulse of the grain.52” was selected to provide a chamber pressure of 1500-psi. A nozzle throat of 0. For test 6. Improved propellant formulations with higher equivalence ratio (closer to stoichiometric) and appropriate additives should increase the experimental specific impulse to values well above 200s. the second variant of the model reflects the progressive nature of the grain burning but over predicts the peak chamber pressure. the start of the ALICE burn is set at time = 0. that the model discussed in section V captures the experimental peak values of pressure and thrust for both the 5” and 7” grains. This is the subject of on-going work at Purdue University and Penn-State University. similar to that of the battleship tests. Using this very conservative approach.The first configuration of the flight-weight motor was in the horizontal configuration. Using the same simplifying assumptions for alumina deposition. The test results show an average peak pressure around 1500-psi and a thrust of 500lbf. A modification of the tool has been completed since the casting of the first grain. While somewhat arbitrary. the mass of propellant expelled for the combustion chamber is calculated based on the initial mass of the ALICE grain and the mass of the slag leftover in the chamber following the test.75" long ALICE grain is 160 s. 15 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics .75" long grain (Test 6) is estimated based on the total impulse and the mass of propellant expelled from the combustion chamber. Twophase flow losses and nozzle efficiency losses also contribute to the lower specific impulse value. the experimental results compare well with the predictions of the first variant of the lumped parameter model. The total impulse is obtained by integrating the measured thrust over the estimated duration of the ALICE burn. due to limitations of the grain-casting tool. In turn. the estimated specific impulse of the 6. While this value is much lower than predicted.
Table 5. Further improvements of the propellant formulation should address these constraints. The consistent ratio between the prediction and actual measurements indicate a further understanding of the propellant. In turn. An internal ballistic model developed to support the experiments provides a simplified account of a complex series of events within the igniter and the main combustion chamber. larger grains require heavier casings. Future work will include a test of the flight-weight motor in the vertical position. Perturbations to the model can be introduced to reflect the reduction of the nozzle throat diameter due to alumina deposition and to take into account losses in the combustion chamber and the nozzle. Second. the combustion and flow losses observed during the last six static test firings lead to total impulse values about 60% that of the predicted values. A successful launch of the carbon fiber rocket using a commercially available motor and a successful flight-weight casing static test furthers the goal of this project to a test flight with ALICE propellant.75" long grain experimental test results 1285 1650 550 While the original target altitude for the sounding rocket was set at 3000 ft. it is also a prediction tool for flightweight motor performance and. In addition. This leads to added weight for an igniter casing and an interface with the ALICE casing capable of sustaining high pressures and designed in such a way the combustion gases do not impact the aluminum walls. Once this test is complete. While designed for flight with safety factors around 1. Previous work by other researchers has indicated that the ISP of ALICE propellant can increase with the addition of hydrogen peroxide or other ingredients such as alane in place of aluminum powders.75" long grain Model with deposit & losses for 6. and improve performance. Six small-scale static experiments have shown consistent results when compared to the prediction codes. the alumina slag left should be analyzed to determine the amount of initial aluminum that did not react.75” long grain Model assuming no losses for 6. Such high burning rate means that larger grains are required to sustain the ALICE combustion over sufficiently long durations to adequately distribute the thrust and therefore the rocket acceleration. 16 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . While the model overpredicts the total impulse of the ALICE propellant grains. a launch with ALICE propellant in the sounding rocket will be the next step. 12). as it could modify the burning rate. First.5. or using fuel additives. The use of fuel additives is an attractive idea. These losses can be greatly reduced and are being addressed in on-going work with improved ALICE propellant formulations including additives and alternative formulations to achieve higher specific impulse and lower the alumina content of the products. The model is based on measured burning rate parameters and exact grain geometries tested at the Purdue Propulsion Laboratories. Another direction for the ALICE propellant is to begin testing with a stoichiometric mixture. the heavier casings reduce the maximum altitude achievable with the rocket. decrease alumina produced. Modeling summary for 6. as well as yield a better understanding into the kinetics of the reaction. the flight-weight casing for the ALICE propellant has to sustain pressures up to 2000 psi requiring thicker walls than that for commercial motors such as the Aerotech K780. Recommended Future Work & Conclusion We have shown that refrigerated solid propellants can be used for rocket motors and the ALICE propellant has shown promise as a successful rocket propellant in static test firings. based on consistency between model and experiment over several tests. The current design is a trade-off between the aforementioned constraints and has for sole purpose the demonstration of the ALICE propellant in a flight capable environment. improvements in the mixing procedure have produced a consistent and homogeneous propellant. it is a very useful tool for peak chamber pressure and thrust predictions and. In addition to these launches. the energy required for igniting the current ALICE propellant formulation is significantly higher than that required for a standard solid propellant. rocket trajectory predictions. several constraints limit the achievable altitude with the current ALICE powered rocket to approximately 1200 ft (as shown on Fig. Finally. the burning rate of the current ALICE formulation is on the order of 1 inch per second at the nominal operating pressure of 1500 psi.75" long grain Total Impulse [N-s] 2004 1805 Peak Pc [psi] 1670 2000 Peak Thrust [lbf] 548 530 6. This will help to explain some of the differences between the predication and the test values. therefore. and the modeling of nAl particles. Although this current propellant formulation is far from optimized.
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