You are on page 1of 39

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Scram jet) Jump to: navigation, search

X-43A with scramjet attached to the underside at Mach 7 A scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) is a variation of a ramjet with the key difference being that the flow in the combustor is supersonic. At higher speeds it is necessary to combust supersonically to maximize the efficiency of the combustion process. Projections for the top speed of a scramjet engine (without additional oxidiser input) vary between Mach 12 and Mach 24 (orbital velocity), but the X-30 research gave Mach 17 due to combustion rate issues. By way of contrast, the fastest conventional air-breathing, manned vehicles, such as the U.S. Air Force SR-71, achieve slightly more than Mach 3.2 and rockets achieved Mach 30+ during Apollo. Like a ramjet, a scramjet essentially consists of a constricted tube through which inlet air is compressed by the high speed of the vehicle, fuel is combusted, and then the exhaust jet leaves at higher speed than the inlet air. Also like a ramjet, there are few or no moving parts. In particular there is no high speed turbine as in a turbofan or turbojet engine that can be a major point of failure. A scramjet requires supersonic airflow through the engine, thus, similar to a ramjet, scramjets have a minimum functional speed. This speed is uncertain due to the low number of working scramjets, relative youth of the field, and the largely classified nature of research using complete scramjet engines. However it is likely to be at least Mach 5 for a pure scramjet, with higher Mach numbers 7-9 more likely. Thus scramjets require acceleration to hypersonic speed via other means. A hybrid ramjet/scramjet would have a lower minimum functional Mach number, and some sources indicate the NASA X-43A research vehicle is a hybrid design. Recent tests of prototypes have used a booster rocket to obtain the necessary velocity. Air breathing engines should have significantly better specific impulse while within the atmosphere than rocket engines.

However scramjets have weight and complexity issues that must be considered. While very short suborbital scramjets test flights have been successfully performed, perhaps significantly no flown scramjet has ever been successfully designed to survive a flight test. The viability of scramjet vehicles is hotly contested in aerospace and space vehicle circles, in part because many of the parameters which would eventually define the efficiency of such a vehicle remain uncertain. This has led to grandiose claims from both sides, which have been intensified by the large amount of funding involved in any hypersonic testing. Some notable aerospace gurus such as Henry Spencer and Jim Oberg have gone so far as calling orbital scramjets 'the hardest way to reach orbit', or even 'scamjets' due to the extreme technical challenges involved. Major, well funded projects, like the X-30 were cancelled before producing any working hardware.

[hide] 1 History 2 Simple description 3 Theory 4 Advantages and disadvantages of scramjets o 4.1 Special cooling and materials o 4.2 Half an engine o 4.3 Simplicity of design o 4.4 Additional propulsion requirements o 4.5 Testing difficulties o 4.6 Lack of stealth 5 Advantages and disadvantages for orbital vehicles o 5.1 Lower thrust-weight ratio o 5.2 Need additional engine(s) to reach orbit o 5.3 Reentry o 5.4 Costs 6 Applications 7 Recent progress 8 Scramjet in the movies 9 Scramjets in other media 10 See also 11 References

12 External links

[edit] History
During and after World War II, tremendous amounts of time and effort were put into researching high-speed jet- and rocket-powered aircraft. The Bell X-1 attained

supersonic flight in 1947, and by the early 1960s, rapid progress towards faster aircraft suggested that operational aircraft would be flying at "hypersonic" speeds within a few years. Except for specialized rocket research vehicles like the North American X-15 and other rocket-powered spacecraft, aircraft top speeds have remained level, generally in the range of Mach 1 to Mach 2. In the realm of civilian air transport, the primary goal has been reducing operating cost, rather than increasing flight speeds. Because supersonic flight requires significant amounts of fuel, airlines have favored subsonic jumbo jets rather than supersonic transports. The production supersonic airliners, Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144 operated with little profit for the French and Russian airlines but British Airways flew Concorde at a 60% profit margin over its commercial life.[1]. Military aircraft design focused on maneuverability and stealth, features thought to be incompatible with hypersonic aerodynamics. In the United States, from 1986-1993, a reasonably serious attempt to develop a single stage to orbit reusable spaceplane using scramjet engines was made, but the Rockwell X-30 (NASP) program failed. Hypersonic flight concepts haven't gone away, however, and low-level investigations have continued over the past few decades. Presently, the US military and NASA have formulated a "National Hypersonics Strategy" to investigate a range of options for hypersonic flight. Other nations such as Australia, France, Russia, and India have also progressed in hypersonic propulsion research. Different U.S. organizations have accepted hypersonic flight as a common goal. The U.S. Army desires hypersonic missiles that can attack mobile missile launchers quickly. NASA believes hypersonics could help develop economical, reusable launch vehicles. The Air Force is interested in a wide range of hypersonic systems, from airlaunched cruise missiles to orbital spaceplanes, that the service believes could bring about a true "aerospace force." There are several claims as to which group were the first to demonstrate a "working" scramjet, where "working" in this case can refer to: Demonstration of supersonic combustion in a ground test Demonstration of net thrust in a ground test Demonstration of supersonic combustion or net thrust in a ground test with realistic fuels and/or realistic wind tunnel flow conditions. Demonstration of supersonic combustion in a flight test Demonstration of net thrust in a flight test.

The problem is complicated by the release of previously classified material and by partial publication, where claims are made, but specific parts of an experiment are kept secret. Additionally experimental difficulties in verifying that supersonic combustion actually occurred, or that actual net thrust was produced mean that at least four consortiums have legitimate claims to "firsts", with several nations and institutions involved in each consortium (For a further listing see Scramjet_Programs). No scramjet powered vehicle has yet been produced outside an experimental program.

[edit] Simple description

A scramjet is a type of engine which is designed to operate at the high speeds normally associated with rocket propulsion. It differs from a classic rocket by using air collected from the atmosphere to burn its fuel, as opposed to an oxidizer carried with the vehicle. Normal jet engines and ramjet engines also use air collected from the atmosphere in this way. The problem is that collecting air from the atmosphere causes drag, which increases quickly as the speed increases. Also, at high speed, the air collected becomes so hot that the fuel no longer burns properly.

Diagram illustrating the principle of scramjet operation The scramjet is a proposed solution to both of these problems, by modifications of the ramjet design. The main change is that the blockage inside the engine is reduced, so that the air isn't slowed down as much. This means that the air is cooler, so that the fuel can burn properly. Unfortunately the higher speed of the air means that the fuel has to mix and burn in a very short time, which is difficult to achieve. To keep the combustion of the fuel going at the same rate, the pressure and temperature in the engine need to be kept constant. Unfortunately, the blockages which were removed from the ramjet were useful to control the air in the engine, and so the scramjet is forced to fly at a particular speed for each altitude. This is called a "constant dynamic pressure path" because the wind that the scramjet feels in its face is constant, making the scramjet fly faster at higher altitude and slower at lower altitude. The inside of a very simple scramjet would look like two kitchen funnels attached by their small ends. The first funnel is the intake, and the air is pushed through, becoming compressed and hot. In the small section, where the two funnels join, fuel is added, and the combustion makes the gas become even hotter and more compressed. Finally, the second funnel is a nozzle, like the nozzle of a rocket, and thrust is produced. Note that most artists' impressions of scramjet-powered vehicle designs depict waveriders where the underside of the vehicle forms the intake and nozzle of the engine. This means that the intake and nozzle of the engine are asymmetric and contribute directly to the lift of the aircraft. A waverider is the required form for a hypersonic lifting body.

[edit] Theory
All scramjet engines have fuel injectors, a combustion chamber, a thrust nozzle and an inlet, which compresses the incoming air. Sometimes engines also include a region

which acts as a flame holder, although the high stagnation temperatures mean that an area of focused waves may be used, rather than a discrete engine part as seen in turbine engines. Other engines use pyrophoric fuel additives, such as silane, to avoid such issues. An isolator between the inlet and combustion chamber is often included to improve the homogeneity of the flow in the combustor and to extend the operating range of the engine. A scramjet is reminiscent of a ramjet. In a typical ramjet, the supersonic inflow of the engine is decelerated at the inlet to subsonic speeds and then reaccelerated through a nozzle to supersonic speeds to produce thrust. This deceleration, which is produced by a normal shock, creates a total pressure loss which limits the upper operating point of a ramjet engine. For a scramjet, the kinetic energy of the freestream air entering the scramjet engine is large compared to the energy released by the reaction of the oxygen content of the air with a fuel (say hydrogen). Thus the heat released from combustion at Mach 25 is around 10% of the total enthalpy of the working fluid. Depending on the fuel, the kinetic energy of the air and the potential combustion heat release will be equal at around Mach 8. Thus the design of a scramjet engine is as much about minimizing drag as maximizing thrust. This high speed makes the control of the flow within the combustion chamber more difficult. Since the flow is supersonic, no upstream influence propagates within the freestream of the combustion chamber. Thus throttling of the entrance to the thrust nozzle is not a usable control technique. In effect, a block of gas entering the combustion chamber must mix with fuel and have sufficient time for initiation and reaction, all the while travelling supersonically through the combustion chamber, before the burned gas is expanded through the thrust nozzle. This places stringent requirements on the pressure and temperature of the flow, and requires that the fuel injection and mixing be extremely efficient. Usable dynamic pressures lie in the range 20 to 200 kPa (0.2-2 bar), where

where q is the dynamic pressure of the gas (rho) is the density of the gas v is the velocity of the gas Fuel injection and management is also potentially complex. One possibility would be that the fuel is pressurized to 100 bar by a turbo pump, heated by the fuselage, sent through the turbine and accelerated to higher speeds than the air by a nozzle. The air and fuel stream are crossed in a comb like structure, which generates a large interface. Turbulence due to the higher speed of the fuel lead to additional mixing. Complex fuels like kerosine need a long engine to complete combustion. The minimum Mach number at which a scramjet can operate is limited by the fact that the compressed flow must be hot enough to burn the fuel, and of high enough pressure

that the reaction is finished before the air moves out the back of the engine. Additionally, in order to be called a scramjet, the compressed flow must still be supersonic after combustion. Here two limits must be observed: Firstly, since when a supersonic flow is compressed it slows down, the level of compression must be low enough (or the initial speed high enough) not to slow down the gas below Mach 1. If the gas within a scramjet goes below Mach 1 the engine will "choke", transitioning to subsonic flow in the combustion chamber. This effect is well known amongst experimenters on scramjets since the waves caused by choking are easily observable. Additionally, the sudden increase in pressure and temperature in the engine can lead to an acceleration of the combustion, leading to the combustion chamber exploding. Secondly, the heating of the gas by combustion causes the speed of sound in the gas to increase (and the Mach number to decrease) even though the gas is still travelling at the same speed. Forcing the speed of air flow in the combustion chamber under Mach 1 in this way is called "thermal choking". It is clear that a pure scramjet can operate at Mach numbers of 6-8 (e.g 1), but in the lower limit, it depends on the definition of a scramjet. Certainly there are designs where a ramjet transforms into a scramjet over the Mach 3-6 range5 (Dual-mode scramjets). In this range however, the engine is still receiving significant thrust from subsonic combustion of "ramjet" type. The high cost of flight testing and the unavailability of ground facilities have hindered scramjet development. A large amount of the experimental work on scramjets has been undertaken in cryogenic facilities, direct-connect tests, or burners, each of which simulates one aspect of the engine operation. Further, vitiated facilities, storage heated facilities, arc facilities and the various types of shock tunnels each have limitations which have prevented perfect simulation of scramjet operation. The HyShot flight test showed the relevance of the 1:1 simulation of conditions in the T4 and HEG shock tunnels, despite having cold models and a short test time. The NASA-CIAM tests provided similar verification for CIAM's C-16 V/K facility and the Hyper-X project is expected to provide similar verification for the Langley AHSTF [1], CHSTF [2] and 8 ft HTT. Computational fluid dynamics has only recently reached a position to make reasonable computations in solving scramjet operation problems. Boundary layer modeling, turbulent mixing, two-phase flow, flow separation, and real-gas aerothermodynamics continue to be problems on the cutting edge of CFD. Additionally, the modeling of kinetic-limited combustion with very fast-reacting species such as hydrogen makes severe demands on computing resources. Reaction schemes are numerically stiff, having typical times as low as 10-19 seconds, requiring reduced reaction schemes. Much of scramjet experimentation remains classified. Several groups including the US Navy with the SCRAM engine between 1968-1974, and the Hyper-X program with the X-43A have claimed successful demonstrations of scramjet technology. Since these results have not been published openly, they remain unverified and a final design method of scramjet engines still does not exist. The final application of a scramjet engine is likely to be in conjunction with engines which can operate outside the scramjet's operating range. Dual-mode scramjets combine subsonic combustion with supersonic combustion for operation at lower

speeds, and rocket-based combined cycle (RBCC) engines supplement a traditional rocket's propulsion with a scramjet, allowing for additional oxidizer to be added to the scramjet flow. RBCCs offer a possibility to extend a scramjet's operating range to higher speeds or lower intake dynamic pressures than would otherwise be possible.

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages of scramjets

[edit] Special cooling and materials
Unlike a rocket that quickly passes mostly vertically through the atmosphere or a turbojet or ramjet that flies at much lower speeds, a hypersonic airbreathing vehicle optimally flies a "depressed trajectory", staying within the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. Because scramjets have only mediocre thrust-to-weight ratios, acceleration would be limited. Therefore time in the atmosphere at hypersonic speed would be considerable, possibly 15-30 minutes. Similar to a reentering space vehicle, heat insulation from atmospheric friction would be a formidable task. The time in the atmosphere would be greater than that for a typical space capsule, but less than that of the space shuttle. Therefore studies often plan on "active cooling", where coolant circulating throughout the vehicle skin prevents it from disintegrating from the fiery atmospheric friction. Active cooling could require more weight and complexity. There is also safety concern since it's an active system. Often, however, the coolant is the fuel itself, much in the same way that modern rockets use their own fuel and oxidizer as coolant for their engines. Both scramjets and conventional rockets are at risk in the event of a cooling failure.

[edit] Half an engine

The typical waverider scramjet concept involves, effectively, only half an engine. The shockwave of the vehicle itself compresses the inlet gasses, forming the first half of the engine. Likewise, only fuel (the light component) needs tankage, pumps, etc. This greatly reduces craft mass and construction effort, but the resultant engine is still very much heavier than an equivalent rocket or conventional turbojet engine of similar thrust.

[edit] Simplicity of design

Scramjets have few to no moving parts. Most of their body consists of continuous surfaces. With simple fuel pumps, reduced total components, and the reentry system being the craft itself, scramjet development tends to be more of a materials and modelling problem than anything else.

[edit] Additional propulsion requirements

A scramjet cannot produce efficient thrust unless boosted to high speed, around Mach 5, depending on design, although, as mentioned earlier, it could act as a ramjet at low speeds. A horizontal take-off aircraft would need conventional turbofan or rocket engines to take off, sufficiently large to move a heavy craft. Also needed would be

fuel for those engines, plus all engine associated mounting structure and control systems. Turbofan engines are heavy and cannot easily exceed about Mach 2-3, so another propulsion method would be needed to reach scramjet operating speed. That could be ramjets or rockets. Those would also need their own separate fuel supply, structure, and systems. Many proposals instead call for a first stage of droppable solid rocket boosters, which greatly simplifies the design.

[edit] Testing difficulties

Unlike jet or rocket propulsion systems facilities which can be tested on the ground, testing scramjet designs use extremely expensive hypersonic test chambers or expensive launch vehicles, both of which lead to high instrumentation costs. Launched test vehicles very typically end with destruction of the test item and instrumentation.

[edit] Lack of stealth

There is no published way to make a scramjet powered vehicle stealthy- since the vehicle would be very hot due to its high speed within the atmosphere it should be easy to detect with infrared sensors. However, any aggressive act against a scramjet vehicle would be extremely difficult because of its high speed.

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages for orbital vehicles

An advantage of a hypersonic airbreathing (typically scramjet) vehicle like the X-30 is avoiding or at least reducing the need for carrying oxidizer. For example the space shuttle external tank holds 616,432 kg of liquid oxygen (LOX) and 103,000 kg of liquid hydrogen (LH2). The shuttle orbiter itself weighs about 104,000 kg (max landing weight). Therefore 75% of the entire assembly weight is liquid oxygen. If carrying this could be eliminated, the vehicle could be lighter at takeoff and hopefully carry more payload. That would be a major advantage, but the central motivation in pursuing hypersonic airbreathing vehicles would be to reduce costs. Unfortunately there are several disadvantages:

[edit] Lower thrust-weight ratio

A rocket has the advantage that its engines have very high thrust-weight ratios (~100:1), whilst the tank to hold the liquid oxygen approaches a tankage ratio of ~100:1 also. Thus a rocket can achieve a very high mass fraction (Takeoff rocket mass:unfuelled rocket mass=fuel+oxidiser+structure+engines+payload:structure+engines), which improves performance. By way of contrast the projected thrust/weight ratio of scramjet engines of about 2 mean a very much larger percentage of the takeoff mass is engine (ignoring that this fraction increases anyway by a factor of about four due to the lack of onboard oxidiser). In addition the vehicle's lower thrust does not necessarily avoid the need for the expensive, bulky, and failure prone high performance turbopumps found in conventional liquid-fuelled rocket engines, since most scramjet designs seem to be

incapable of orbital speeds in airbreathing mode, and hence extra rocket engines are needed.

[edit] Need additional engine(s) to reach orbit

Scramjets might be able to accelerate from approximately Mach 5-7 to around somewhere between half of orbital velocity and orbital velocity (X-30 research suggested that Mach 17 might be the limit compared to an orbital speed of mach 25, and other studies put the upper speed limit for a pure scramjet engine between Mach 10 and 25, depending on the assumptions made). Generally, another propulsion system (very typically rocket is proposed) is expected to be needed for the final acceleration into orbit. Since the delta-V is moderate and the payload fraction of scramjets high, lower performance rockets such as solids, hypergolics, or simple liquid fueled boosters might be acceptable. Opponents of scramjet research claim that most of the theoretical advantages for scramjets only accrue if a single stage to orbit (SSTO) vehicle can be successfully produced. Proponents of scramjet research claim that this is a straw man, and that SSTO vehicles are exactly as difficult to produce and bring the same benefits to rocket-powered and scramjet-powered launch vehicles.

[edit] Reentry
The scramjet's heat-resistant underside potentially doubles as its reentry system, if a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle using non-ablative, non-active cooling is visualised. If an ablative shielding is used on the engine, it will probably not be usable after ascent to orbit. If active cooling is used, the loss of all fuel during the burn to orbit will also mean the loss of all cooling for the TPS.

[edit] Costs
Reducing the amount of fuel and oxidizer, as in scramjets, means that the vehicle itself becomes a much larger percentage of the costs (rocket fuels are already cheap). Indeed, the unit cost of the vehicle can be expected to end up far higher, since aerospace hardware cost is probably about two orders of magnitude higher than liquid oxygen and tankage. Still, if scramjets enable reusable vehicles, this could theoretically be a cost benefit. Whether equipment subject to the extreme conditions of a scramjet can be reused sufficiently many times is unclear; all flown scramjet tests are only designed to survive for short periods. The eventual cost of such a vehicle is the subject of intense debate since even the best estimates disagree whether a scramjet vehicle would be advantageous. It is likely that a scramjet vehicle would need to lift more load than a rocket of equal takeoff weight in order to be equally as cost efficient (if the scramjet is a non-reusable vehicle).

[edit] Applications
Seeing its potential, organizations around the world are researching scramjet technology. Scramjets will likely propel missiles first, since that application requires only cruise operation instead of net thrust production. Much of the money for the current research comes from governmental defense research contracts.

Space launch vehicles may or may not benefit from having a scramjet stage. A scramjet stage of a launch vehicle theoretically provides a specific impulse with 1000 to 4000 s whereas a rocket provides less than 600 s while in the atmosphere23, potentially permitting much cheaper access to space. However, a scramjet's specific impulse decreases rapidly with speed, as the vehicle exhibits increased drag. One issue is that scramjet engines are predicted to have exceptionally poor thrust to weight ratio- around 2 4. This compares very unfavorably with the 50-100 of a typical rocket engine. This is compensated for in scramjets partly because the weight of the vehicle would be carried by aerodynamic lift rather than pure rocket power (giving reduced 'gravity losses'), but scramjets would take much longer to get to orbit due to lower thrust which greatly offsets the advantage. The takeoff weight of a scramjet vehicle is significantly reduced over that of a rocket, due to the lack of onboard oxidiser, but increased by the structural requirements of the larger and heavier engines. Whether this vehicle would be reusable or not is still a subject of debate and research. An aircraft using this type of jet engine could dramatically reduce the time it takes to travel from one place to another, potentially putting any place on Earth within a 90 minute flight. However, there are questions about whether such a vehicle could carry enough fuel to make useful length trips, and there are obvious issues with sonic booms. There are also questions as to how realistic such a proposal is that revolve around costs (capital and maintenance) of technology that is yet to be developed.

[edit] Recent progress

Main article: Scramjet Programs In recent years, significant progress has been made in the development of hypersonic technology, particularly in the field of scramjet engines. US efforts are probably the best funded, and the Hyper-X group have claimed the first flight of a thrust-producing scramjet with full aerodynamic maneuvering surfaces. The first group to demonstrate a scramjet working in an atmospheric test was a project by an Australian team at the University of Queensland. The university's HyShot project demonstrated scramjet combustion in July 30, 2002. The scramjet engine worked effectively and demonstrated supersonic combustion in action, however the engine was not designed to provide thrust to propel a craft, it was designed more or less as a technology demonstrator. Both of these projects are ongoing. At least the following nations have active scramjet programs (by alphabetical order):

Australia France Germany India Italy

Japan Russia South Korea Sweden United Kingdom United States of America

[edit] Scramjet in the movies

The 1983 television movie "Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land" explores the concept of a hypersonic jetliner for passenger transportation, developed by the fictional company Thornwall Aviation. The jetliner uses scramjet engines to reach a point high in the stratosphere for a quick two-hour jump from Los Angeles to Sydney, and the engines are powered with hydrogen. NASA is accustomed to handling this fuel, and a NASA space shuttle handles a refuelling job while the jetliner is (accidentally) stuck in orbit. In the 2005 movie "Stealth" the UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) named "EDI" (Extreme deep invader) is powered by two Scramjets as booster engines.

[edit] Scramjets in other media

The Mave fighter in Sentou Yousei Yukikaze has an option within its performance range called "RAM-AIR," which is treated as a ramjet but has performance which more closely resembles a scramjet. It was used by Rei Fukai, the main character, to chase after and catch up to an enemy fighter mere moments before it did a kamikaze attack on a friendly ship. One of the engine types available for the customizable aircraft in Ace Combat X is called the "SCRAMjet."

[edit] See also

Rockwell X-30 Hyper-X Single-stage to orbit X-43A HyShot Liquid air cycle engine/SABRE Atmospheric reentry Busemann's Biplane

[edit] References
Note 1: Paull, A., Stalker, R.J., Mee, D.J. "Experiments on supersonic combustion ramjet propulsion in a shock tunnel", JFM 296: 156-183, 1995. Note 2: Kors, D.L. Design considerations for combined air breathingrocket propulsion systems., AIAA Paper No. 90-5216, 1990.

Note 3: Varvill, R., Bond, A. "A Comparison of Propulsion Concepts for SSTO Reuseable Launchers", JBIS, Vol 56, pp 108-117, 2003. Figure 8. Note 4: Varvill, R., Bond, A. "A Comparison of Propulsion Concepts for SSTO Reuseable Launchers", JBIS, Vol 56, pp 108-117, 2003. Figure 7. Note 5: Voland, R.T., Auslender, A.H., Smart, M.K., Roudakov, A.S., Semenov, V.L., Kopchenov, V. "CIAM/NASA Mach 6.5 scramjet flight and ground test", AIAA-99-4848. Note 6: Oldenborg R. et al "Hypersonic Combustion Kinetics: Status Report of the Rate Constant Committee, NASP High-Speed Propulsion Technology Team" NASP Technical Memorandum 1107, May 1990. Note 7: Billig, FS "SCRAM-A Supersonic Combustion Ramjet Missile", AIAA paper 93-2329, 1993. HyShot -University Of Queensland HyShot Leaders in Scramjet Technology Latest results from the 24 March 2006 QinetiQ HyShot launch. French Support Russian SCRAMJET Tests. A Burning Question. American Scientist. Hypersonic Scramjet Projectile Flys in Missile Test. SpaceDaily. NASA website for National Hypersonics Plan NASA's X-43A University of Queensland Centre for Hypersonics]

[edit] External links

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Ram-Jet) Jump to: navigation, search For the hypothetical method of interstellar travel, see Bussard ramjet. For the Transformers character, see Ramjet (Transformers)

Schematic diagram showing simple ramjet operation, with Mach numbers of flow shown. A ramjet, sometimes referred to as a stovepipe jet, contains no major moving parts and can be particularly useful in applications requiring a small and simple engine for

high speed use; such as missiles. They have also been used successfully, though not efficiently, as tipjets on helicopter rotors.


1 History 2 Design 3 Ramjet Types 4 Flight speed 5 Related engines o 5.1 Scramjets o 5.2 Precooled engines o 5.3 Nuclear powered ramjets o 5.4 J58 o 5.5 Ionospheric ramjet 6 References 7 Aircraft using ramjets 8 Missiles using ramjets 9 See also 10 External links

[edit] History
The idea of the ramjet (not to be confused with the Pulse jet engine of V-1 flying bomb fame, or with the Scramjet) was patented as early as 1908 by Ren Lorin. In the Soviet Union, the GIRD-08 ramjet engine was built by Yuri Pobedonostsev and test fired in 1933. In France the works of Ren Leduc was notable, as was that of William Avery in the United States. Leduc's Model 010 was the first-ever ramjet-powered aircraft to fly, in 1949.

[edit] Design
In its simplest form a turbojet consists of an air intake, compressor, combustor, turbine and nozzle. In a ramjet, owing to the high flight speed, the ram compression is sufficient to dispense with the need for a compressor and a turbine to drive it. So a ramjet is virtually a 'flying stovepipe', a very simple device comprising of an air intake, a combustor, and a nozzle. Normally the only moving parts are those within the turbopump, which pumps the fuel to the combustor, in a liquid fuel ramjet. Solid fuel ramjets are even simpler. Ramjets try to exploit the very high total pressure within the streamtube approaching the air intake lip. A reasonably efficient intake will recover much of the freestream stagnation pressure, to support the combustion and expansion processes. Most ramjets

operate at supersonic flight speeds and use one or more conical (or oblique) shock waves, terminated by a strong normal shock, to decelerate the airflow to a subsonic velocity at intake exit. Further diffusion is then required to get the air velocity down to level suitable for the combustor. Since there is no downstream turbine, a ramjet combustor can safely operate at stoichiometric fuel:air ratios, which implies a combustor exit stagnation temperature of the order of 2400 K for kerosene. Normally the combustor must be capable of operating over a wide range of throttle settings, for a range of flight speeds/altitudes. Usually a sheltered pilot region enables combustion to continue when the vehicle intake undergoes high yaw/pitch, during turns. Other flame stabilization techniques make use of flame holders, which vary in design from combustor cans to simple flat plates, to shelter the flame and improve fuel mixing. Overfuelling the combustor can cause the normal shock within a supersonic intake system to be pushed forward beyond the intake lip, resulting in a substantial drop in engine airflow and net thrust. Because nozzle pressure ratios are relatively high, ramjet engines are normally fitted with a convergent/divergent propelling nozzle. Given sufficient initial flight velocity, a ramjet will be self-sustaining. Indeed, unless the vehicle drag is extremely high, the engine/airframe combination will tend to accelerate to higher and higher flight speeds, substantially increasing the air intake temperature. As this could have a detrimental effect on the integrity of the engine and/or airframe, the fuel control system must reduce engine fuel flow to stabilize the flight Mach number and, thereby, air intake temperature to sensible levels. As a ramjet contains no (major) moving parts, it is lighter than a turbojet and can be particularly useful in applications requiring a small and simple engine for high speed use; such as missiles. They have also been used successfully, though not efficiently, as tipjets on helicopter rotors.

[edit] Ramjet Types

Ramjets can be classified according to the type of fuel, liquid or solid, and the booster.[1] In a liquid fuel ramjet (LFRJ) hydrocarbon fuel is injected into the combustor ahead of a flameholder which stabilises the flame resulting from the combustion of the fuel with the compressed air from the intake(s). A means of pressurising and supplying the fuel to the ramcombustor is required which can be complicated and expensive. Aerospatiale-Celerg have designed a LFRJ where the fuel is forced into the injectors by an elastomer bladder which inflates progressively along the length of the fuel tank. Initially the bladder forms a close-fitting sheath around the compressed air bottle from which it is inflated, which is mounted lengthwise in the tank.[2] This offers a lower cost approach than a regulated LFRJ requiring a turbopump and associated hardware to supply the fuel.[3] A ramjet generates no static thrust and needs a booster to achieve a forward velocity high enough for efficient operation of the intake system. The first ramjet powered missiles used external boosters, usually solid-propellant rockets, either in tandem,

where the booster is mounted immediately aft of the ramjet, e.g. Sea Dart, or wraparound where multiple boosters are attached alongside the outside of the ramjet e.g. SA-4 Ganef. The choice of booster arrangement is usually driven by the size of the launch platform. A tandem booster increases the overall length of the system whereas wraparound boosters increase the overall diameter. Wraparound boosters will usually generate higher drag than a tandem arrangement. Integrated boosters provide a more efficient packaging option since the booster propellant is cast inside the otherwise empty combustor. This approach has been used on solid, for example SA-6 Gainful, liquid, for example ASMP, and ducted rocket, for example Meteor), designs. Integrated designs are complicated by the different nozzle requirements of the boost and ramjet phases of flight. Due to the higher thrust levels of the booster a different shaped nozzle is required for optimum thrust compared to that required for the lower thrust ramjet sustainer. This is usually achieved via a separate nozzle which is ejected after booster burnout. However, designs such as Meteor feature nozzleless boosters. This offers the advantages of elimination of the hazard to launch aircraft from the ejected boost nozzle debris, simplicity, reliability, and reduced mass and cost[4], although this must be traded against the reduction in performance compared with that provided by a dedicated booster nozzle. In a solid fuel integrated rocket ramjet (SFIRR) the solid propellant is cast along the outer wall of the ramcombustor. In this case fuel injection is through ablation of the propellant by the hot compressed air from the intake(s). An aft mixer may be used to improve combustion efficiency. SFIRRs are preferred over LFRJs for some applications because of the simplicity of the fuel supply but only when the throttling requirements are minimal i.e. when variations in altitude or Mach number are limited. In a ducted rocket a solid fuel gas generator produces a hot fuel-rich gas which is burnt in the ramcombustor with the compressed air supplied by the intake(s). The flow of gas improves the mixing of the fuel and air and increases total pressure recovery. In a Throttleable Ducted Rocket (TDR), also known as a Variable Flow Ducted Rocket (VFDR), a valve allows the gas generator exhaust to be throttled allowing control of the thrust. Unlike a LFRJ solid propellant ramjets cannot flameout. The ducted rocket sits somewhere between the simplicity of the SFRJ and the unlimited throttleability of the LFRJ. The Franco-German company Bayern-Chemie/PROTAC are world leaders in TDR technology and have been developing this form of ramjet propulsion since the 1970s. The first demonstration firing of a ducted rocket with a high energy boron-loaded gas generator was conducted in 1981 while a lightweight TDR suitable for use on the planned Franco-German Anti Navire Supersonique (ANS) supersonic anti-ship missile was tested in 1986. Research and development for BVRAAM applications began in 1990, exploring the problems of asymmetric intake configurations. A lightweight BVRAAM motor demonstrated the critical boost-to-sustain transition in 1998. VFDR technology has been under development in the US by an Atlantic Research (ARC)/Alliant Techsystems (ATK) team since the mid-1980s. In 1997 the ARC/ATK team completed ground tests of a flight weight 180mm diameter VFDR as part of the USAF Air Superiority Missile Technology programme which started in 1996.[5]

[edit] Flight speed

Ramjets generally give little or no thrust below about half the speed of sound, and they are inefficient (less than 600 seconds) until the airspeed exceeds 1000 km/h (600 mph) due to low compression ratios. Even above the minimum speed a wide flight envelope (range of flight conditions), such as low to high speeds and low to high altitudes, can force significant design compromises, and they tend to work best optimised for one designed speed and altitude (point designs). However, ramjets generally outperform gas turbine based jet engine designs at supersonic speeds (mach 2-4). Although inefficient at the slower speeds they are more fuel-efficient than rockets over their entire useful working range.

[edit] Related engines

[edit] Scramjets
Main article: Scramjet Ramjets always slow the incoming air to a subsonic velocity within the combustor. Scramjets, or "supersonic combustion ramjet" are similar to Ramjets, but the air goes through the entire engine at supersonic speeds, eliminating the strong normal shock wave in the intake. This increases the stagnation pressure recovered from the freestream and improves net thrust. Owing to the hypersonic (rather than supersonic) flight speeds experienced, scramjet air intake temperatures are too high for burning kerosene, so hydrogen is normally used as the fuel. Thermal choking of the exhaust is avoided by having a relatively high supersonic air velocity at combustor entry. Fuel injection is often into a sheltered region below a step in the combustor wall. Although scramjet engines have been studied for many decades it is only recently that small experimental units have been flight tested and then only very briefly (e.g. the Boeing X-43).[citation needed]

[edit] Precooled engines

A variant of the pure ramjet is the 'combined cycle' engine, intended to overcome the limitations of the pure ramjet. One example of this is the SABRE engine. Another example of this is the Air Turbo Ramjet (ATR) which operates as a conventional turbojet at subsonic speeds and a fan assisted ramjet at speeds below Mach 6. The ATREX engine developed in Japan is an experimental implementation of this concept. It uses liquid hydrogen fuel in a fairly exotic single-fan arrangement. The liquid hydrogen fuel is pumped through a heat exchanger in the air-intake, simultaneously heating the liquid hydrogen, and cooling the incoming air. This cooling of the incoming air is critical to achieving a reasonable efficiency. The hydrogen then continues through a second heat exchanger position after the combustion section, where the hot exhaust is used to further heat the hydrogen, turning it into a very high pressure gas. This gas is then passed through the tips of the fan providing driving power to the fan at sub-sonic speeds. After mixing with the air it's then combusted in the combustion chamber.

[edit] Nuclear powered ramjets

Main article: Project Pluto During the cold war the United States designed and ground-tested a nuclear-powered ramjet called Project Pluto. This system used no combustion - a nuclear reactor heated the air instead. The project was ultimately canceled because ICBMs seemed to serve the purpose better, and because a low-flying missile would have been highly radioactive.

[edit] J58
The SR-71's Pratt & Whitney J58 engines act as turbojet-assisted ramjets at highspeeds (Mach 3.2).

[edit] Ionospheric ramjet

The upper atmosphere above about 100km contains monatomic oxygen that has been produced by photochemistry by the sun. A concept was created by NASA for recombining this thin gas back to diatomic molecules at orbital speeds to power a ramjet.[6]

[edit] References
1. ^ "A Century of Ramjet Propulsion Technology Evolution", AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol.20, No.1, January - February 2004 2. ^ "Aerospatiale studies low-cost ramjet", Flight International, 13 - 19 December 1995 3. ^ "Hughes homes in on missile pact", Flight International, 11 - 17 September 1996 4. ^ Procinsky, I.M., McHale, C.A., "Nozzleless Boosters for IntegralRocket-Ramjet Missile Systems, Paper 80-1277, AIAA/SAE/ASME 16th Joint Propulsion Conference, 30th June to 2nd July 1980 5. ^ "Rocket/ramjet power studied for air-launched weapons", Flight International, 10 - 16 February 2004 6. ^ PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF PROPULSION USING CHEMICAL ENERGY STORED IN THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE By Lionel V, Baldwin and Perry L. Blackshear

[edit] Aircraft using ramjets

Bendix RIM-8 Talos Hiller Hornet (a ramjet powered helicopter) Leduc experimental aircraft Lockheed D-21 Lockheed X-7 Nord 1500 Griffon Republic XF-103

[edit] Missiles using ramjets

Bomarc BrahMos North American SM-64 Navaho

[edit] See also

Ram accelerator Aircraft engines Scramjet Jet Engine Performance Jet aircraft Jetboat Turbofan Turbojet Turboprop Turboshaft Jet engine Spacecraft propulsion Supercharger Turbocharger Gas turbine Bussard ramjet Kurt Schreckling who built practical jet engines for model aircraft Wikibooks: Jet propulsion

[edit] External links

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!

Ram accelerator
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search A ram accelerator is a gun that utilizes ramjet or scramjet combustion modes to accelerate a projectile to extremely high speeds. In a normal ramjet, air is compressed for combustion between a spike-shaped ram and an outer casing. In a ram accelerator, a similar shaped ram is fired (often from a conventional gun) into the accelerator barrel, causing compression between the projectile and the barrel's walls. The barrel contains a fuel-air mixture. As the ram compresses the mixture, it is ignited behind it. In a typical ram accelerator design, thin membranes designed to be easily punctured by the ram wall off sections of the barrel. Each section is filled with a different fuelair mixture chosen so that later sections have higher speeds of sound. As such, the ram can be maintained at optimal speeds of mach 35 (relative to the mixture that it

travels through) during its entire acceleration period. Ram accelerators optimized to use supersonic combustion modes can generate even higher velocities due to the ability to combust fuel that is still moving at supersonic speed. The chief advantage of a ram accelerator over a conventional gun is its scalability. In a normal gun, maximum pressure is exerted at the time of the initial charge detonation. The gun must be capable of withstanding the pressure of all of the gas from the reaction, compressed into a small location. As the projectile moves further down the barrel, the amount of acceleration upon the projectile decreases, eventually reaching amounts trivial enough that a longer barrel is no longer justified (see internal ballistics). With a ram accelerator, the projectile is propelled primarily by the reaction of the propellant gasses burning, not the pressure in the barrel behind it. This leads to constant pressure being put both on the gun and the projectile itself. Consequently, far longer barrels are possible, while still delivering a strong constant acceleration to the projectile. Ram accelerators have been proposed as a cheap method to get payloads into space. Due to wind resistance, the projectile still may need to utilize embedded rockets, such as those designed in Project HARP, to achieve orbit. Its main competitors are railguns and coilguns. Ram accelerators are currently used primarily for research into supersonic combustion. The scram cannon science fiction weapon was inspired by ram accelerators.

[edit] See also

light gas gun scram cannon

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!

Internal ballistics
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Internal ballistics, a subfield of ballistics, is the study of a projectile's behavior from the time its propellant's igniter is initiated until it exits the gun barrel. The study of internal ballistics is important to designers and users of firearms of all types, from small-bore Olympic rifles and pistols, to high-tech artillery.


1 Ignition o 1.1 Priming methods 1.1.1 External priming 1.1.2 Internal priming o 1.2 Electrical 2 Propellant o 2.1 Black powder o 2.2 Nitrocellulose o 2.3 Double base propellants o 2.4 Solid propellants o 2.5 Load density and consistency 3 Chamber o 3.1 Straight vs bottleneck o 3.2 Aspect ratio and consistency 4 Friction and inertia o 4.1 Static friction and ignition o 4.2 Kinetic friction o 4.3 The role of inertia 5 Pressure o 5.1 Pressure vs distance traveled o 5.2 Peak vs area o 5.3 Propellant burnout o 5.4 Muzzle pressure concerns 6 General concerns o 6.1 Bore diameter and energy transfer o 6.2 Ratio of propellant to projectile mass o 6.3 Accuracy and bore characteristics o 6.4 Autoloading firearms 6.4.1 Blowback firearms 6.4.2 Gas-operated firearms 6.4.3 Recoil-operated firearms 7 References 8 See also

[edit] Ignition
[edit] Priming methods
The first step to firing a firearm of any sort is igniting the propellant. The earliest firearms were cannons, which were simple closed tubes. There was a small aperture, the "touchhole", drilled in the closed end of the tube, leading down to the main powder charge. This hole was filled with finely ground powder, which was then ignited with a hot ember or torch. With the advent of hand-held firearms, this became an undesirable way of firing a gun. Holding a burning stick, while trying to carefully pour a charge of black powder down a barrel, is dangerous, and trying to hold the gun with one hand while simultaneously aiming at the target and looking for the touchhole was not conducive to any degree of accuracy.

[edit] External priming

Matchlock: The first attempt to make the process of firing a small arm easier was the "matchlock". The matchlock incorporated a "lock" (so called, because of its resemblance to door locks of the day) that was actuated by a trigger. The lock was a simple lever which pivoted, when pulled, and lowered the match down to the touchhole. The match was a slow burning fuse made of plant fibers that were soaked in a solution of nitrates, charcoal, and sulphur, and dried. This was ignited before the gun might be needed, and it would slowly burn, keeping a hot ember at the burning end. After the gun was loaded, and the touchhole primed with powder, the burning tip of the match was positioned, so that the lock would bring it into contact with the touchhole. To fire the gun, it was aimed, and the trigger pulled. This brought the match down to the touchhole, igniting the powder. The slow burning match could be kept going, with careful attention, for long periods of time, and the use of the lock mechanism made accurate fire (within the limits of the gun) possible. Wheel-lock: The next revolution in ignition technology was the "wheel-lock". It used a spring-loaded, serrated steel wheel which rubbed against a piece of iron pyrite. There was a key which was used to wind the wheel, and put the spring under tension. Once tensioned, the wheel was held in place by a trigger. When the trigger was pulled, the serrated edge of the steel rubbed against the pyrite, generating sparks. These sparks were directed into a pan, called the "flashpan", filled with loose powder which lead into the touchhole. The flashpan was usually covered by a spring-loaded cover that would slide out of the way when the trigger was pulled, exposing the powder to the sparks. The wheel-lock was a major innovation since it did not rely on burning material as a source of heat, it could be loaded, and kept loaded for extended periods of time. The covered flashpan also gave the gun some ability to withstand bad weather. Wind, rain, and wet weather would render a matchlock useless, but a wheel-lock that was loaded, and waterproofed with a bit of grease around the flashpan, could be fired under most conditions. Flintlock: The wheel-lock enjoyed only a brief period of popularity before being superseded by a simpler, more robust design. The "flintlock", like the wheel-lock, used a flashpan and a spark to ignite the powder. As the name implies, the flintlock used flint, rather than iron pyrite. The flint was held in a spring-loaded arm, called the

"cock". The cock rotated through about a 90 degree arc, and was held in the tensioned, or "cocked" position by a trigger. Usually, flintlocks would lock the cock in two positions. The "half-cock" position held the cock halfway back, and used a deep notch, so that pulling the trigger would not release the cock. This was a safety position, used when loading, and when storing or carrying a loaded flintlock. The "full-cock" position held the cock all the way back, and was the position from which the gun was fired. The "frizzen" was the other half of the flintlock ignition system. It served as both a flashpan cover, and a steel striking surface for the flint. The frizzen was hinged, and spring-loaded, so that it would lock in the open or closed position. When closed, the striking surface was positioned so that the flint would strike at the proper angle to generate a spark. The striking flint would also open the frizzen, exposing the flashpan to the spark. The flintlock mechanism was simpler, and stronger than the wheel-lock, and the flint and steel provided a good, reliable source of ignition. The flintlock remained in military service for over 200 years, and flintlocks are still made today for historical re-enactments, and for hunters who enjoy the additional challenge that the flintlock provides. Caplock: The next major leap in ignition technology was the invention of the chemical primer, or "cap", and the mechanism which used it, called the "caplock". The caplock appeared just before the American Civil War, and was quickly adopted by both sides as it was even simpler and more reliable than the flintlock. The main reason the caplock was so quickly adopted was its similarity to the flintlock. The flashpan and frizzen were removed, and replaced by a "nipple" which the cap fit onto. The cock was replaced by a "hammer", which also had half-cock and full-cock positions for the same reasons. When fired, the hammer would hit the cap, crushing it onto the nipple. The percussion cap was a thin metal cup that had in it, a small quantity of pressure-sensitive explosive. When crushed, the explosive would detonate, sending a stream of hot gas down a hole in the nipple, and into the touchhole of the gun. In the process of firing, the cap generally split open, and would fall off, when the hammer was moved to half-cock position for loading. The caplock system worked well, and is still the preferred method of ignition for hunters and recreational shooters who use muzzle-loading arms.

[edit] Internal priming

Chemical primers, advanced metallurgy and manufacturing techniques all came together in the 1800s to create an entirely new class of firearm the cartridge arm. Flintlock and caplock shooters had long carried their ammunition in paper cartridges, which served to hold a measured charge of powder, and a bullet in one convenient package (the paper also served to seal the bullet in the bore). Still, the source of ignition was separate. With the advent of chemical primers, it was not long before all sorts of systems were invented, with a multitude of different ways of combining bullet, powder, and primer into one package which could quickly be loaded from the breech of the firearm. The three systems which have survived the test of time are the rimfire, the Berdan primer, and the Boxer primer. Rimfire: Rimfire cartridges use a thin brass case with a bulge, or rim, around the back end. This rim is filled, during manufacture, with an impact-sensitive primer. In the wet state, the primer is stable; a pellet of wet primer is placed in the shell, and simply spun out to the full extremes of the rim. (For more on the exact process and

one set of chemical compounds that have been used successfully, see U.S. Patent 1880235 , a 1932 Remington Arms patent by James E. Burns.) In the dry state, the primer within the rim becomes impact-sensitive. When the rim is then crushed by the hammer or firing pin, the primer detonates and ignites the powder charge. Rimfire cartridges are single-use after firing, they cannot practically be reloaded. Also, since the rim must be thin enough to be easily crushed, the pressures generated in the case are limited by the strength of this thin rim. Rimfire cartridges were previously available in calibers up to .44, but all except the small .22 caliber rounds died out. The .22 Long Rifle (which is also fired in pistols) is the most popular recreational caliber, because it is inexpensive, quiet, and has very low recoil. The most inexpensive brands can be bought for less than US$0.02 per round in boxes of 500, and even Olympic class ammunition is around US$0.20 per round. While the rimfire priming method is limited due to the thin cases required, it has enjoyed a few resurgences in the recent past. First was Winchester's .22 Magnum Rimfire, or .22 WMR, in the 1950s, followed in 1970 Remington's short lived 5 mm Magnum Rimfire, based on Winchester's magnum case. In 2002 Hornady introduced a new .17 caliber cartridge based on the .22 WMR, the .17 HMR. The .17 HMR is essentially a .22 WMR cartridge necked down to accept a .17 caliber bullet, and is used as a flat-shooting, light duty varmint round. The .17 HMR was followed a year later by the Hornady's .17 Mach 2, or .17 HM2, which is based on a slightly lengthened and necked down .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Both of the .17 caliber rimfires have had widespread support from firearms makers, and while the high-tech, high velocity .17 caliber jacketed bullets make the .17 Rimfire cartridges quite a bit more expensive than the .22 caliber versions, they are still far less expensive than comparable centerfire cartridges. Berdan Primer: The remaining types of priming, Berdan and Boxer, are both considered "centerfire", to differentiate them from the rimfire rounds. Centerfire priming methods are interchangeable; the same firearm can fire both Berdan- and Boxer-primed rounds. Berdan primers are named after their American inventor, Hiram Berdan of New York who invented his first variation of the Berdan primer and patented it on March 20, 1866, in U.S. Patent 53388 . A small copper cylinder formed the shell of the cartridge, and the primer cap was pressed into the outside end of the cartridge opposite the bullet from the outside. In the end of the cartridge beneath the primer cap was a single vent-hole, as well as a small "teat-like projection" or point fashioned from the case, later to be known as an anvil, upon which to provide a hard surface behind the primer cap such that the firing pin would have a hard surface against which to crush the primer and ignite the propellant. This system worked well, allowing the option of installing a cap just before use of the propellant-loaded cartridge, as well as permitting re-loading the cartridge for re-use. Difficulties arose in practice because pressing in the cap from the outside tended to cause a swelling of the copper cartridge shell, preventing the reliable seating of the cartridge in the chamber of the firearm. Berdan's solution was to change to brass shells, and to further modify the process of installing the primer cap into the cartridge, as noted in his second Berdan Primer patent of September 29, 1869, in U.S. Patent 82587 . Berdan primers have remained essentially the same functionally to the present day.

Berdan primers are similar to the caps used in the caplock system being small metal cups, with pressure-sensitive explosive in them. Modern-day Berdan primers are pressed into the primer "pocket" of a Berdan-type cartridge case, where they fit slightly below, flush with the base of the case. Inside the primer pocket is a small bump, the "anvil", that rests against the center of the cup, and two small holes that allow flash from the primer to reach the interior of the case. Berdan cases are reusable, although the process is rather involved. The used primer must be removed, usually by hydraulic pressure, or a lever that pulls the primer out of the bottom. A new primer is carefully seated against the anvil, and then gunpowder and a bullet are added. Berdan priming is used by nearly all militaries and most civilian manufacturers, with the exception of those in the USA. Boxer Primers: Meanwhile, Edward M. Boxer, of the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, England was working on a similar primer cap design for cartridges, patenting it in England on October 13, 1866, and subsequently receiving a U.S. patent for his design on June 29, 1869, in U.S. Patent 91,818 . Boxer primers are similar to Berdan primers with one major change the location of the anvil. In a Boxer primer, the anvil is a separate piece that sits in the primer cup. Because of this, the primer pocket has the flash-hole, centered. This makes little or no difference to the performance of the round, but it makes fired primers vastly easier to remove for re-loading. A thin metal rod is pushed through the mouth of the case, and it pushes the primer out. A new primer, anvil included, is then pressed into the case. Since the primer and anvil are sold as one part, the anvil depth must be correct for the primer that is being inserted, so that the primer does not ignite during loading (although priming is done as the first step, before the powder is added). This is the main reason why Boxer priming is still popular in the USA, as there are a large number of shooters who reload their ammunition. Boxer-primed ammunition is slightly more complex to manufacture, since the primer is in two parts, but the slight increase in initial cost is often more than equalized by the decreased cost of firing reloaded rounds, at least for users intending to reload rounds. However, in much military-surplus ammunition, Berdan-primed ammunition is often found to be more common, having been both cheaper and faster to produce for filling very-large orders intended for military use. Military-surplus Berdan-primed ammunition is also often corrosive or slightly-corrosive, whereas Boxer-primed ammunition is often non-corrosive, although assuming corrosive or non-corrosive characteristics on the basis of whether Berdan or Boxer primed is never fool-proof. Sizes Of Primers: Primers come in different sizes, based on the application. The types/sizes of primers are: For both pistol and rifle: Small and Large, in Standard and Magnum versions. .209 primers for shotgun shells and modern inline muzzleloaders. .50 BMG primers, used for the .50 Browning Machine Gun cartridge and derivatives Specialty primers for extremely small centerfire cases, or for large cannon cartridges

Examples of uses:

.38 Special, small pistol standard .357 Magnum, small pistol magnum .45 ACP, large pistol standard .223 Remington, small rifle standard .308 Winchester, large rifle standard .270 WSM, large rifle magnum

The primer size is based on the primer pocket of the cartridge, with standard types available in large or small diameters. The primer explosive charge is based on the amount of ignition required by the cartridge design; a standard primer would be use for smaller charges or faster burning powders, while a magnum primer would be used for larger charges or slower burning powders. The magnum primers increase the impulse power of powder, by supplying a hotter and stronger spark. The main differences between pistol and rifle primers are the amount of force required to ignite the primer and the amount of spark produced. The primary difference between pistol and rifle primers is the thickness of the primer's case; pistol primers are thinner, softer, and easier to ignite, while rifle primers are thicker, stronger, and require a harder hit from the firing pin. Despite the names pistol and rifle, the primer used depends on the cartridge, not the firearm; high pressure pistol cartridges like the .221 Fireball and .454 Casull use rifle primers, while low pressure cartridges like traditional revolver cartridges commonly used in lever action rifles would still be loaded with pistol primers.

[edit] Electrical
A growing number of civilian arms are switching to electrical triggers. These use an electrical charge, powered by a battery, to detonate the primer and decrease the time between pulling the trigger and ignition of the charge. The control circuitry attendant with electrical triggers also offers opportunities for biometric safety locks, remote trigger mountings, and tele-operation of the weapon.

[edit] Propellant
[edit] Black powder
Black powder is a mix of sulphur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate. Unlike smokeless propellants, it acts more like an explosive since its burn rate is not affected by pressure. However, it is a very poor explosive because it has a very slow decomposition rate, and therefore a very low brisance.

[edit] Nitrocellulose
Nitrocellulose is formed by the action of nitric acid on cellulose fibers. It is a highly combustible plastic that deflagrates rapidly, when heat is applied. It also burns very cleanly, burning almost entirely to gaseous components at high temperatures. The burning rate of nitrocellulose is dependent upon the pressure a pile of uncontained nitrocellulose will burn slowly, with a high, bright flame, but when placed in a high

strength, sealed container, the same material will burn very quickly, bursting the container. Since nitrocellulose is a plastic, it can be formed into many shapes of gunpowder, such as cylinders, tubes, balls, and flakes. The size and shape of the powder grains can increase or decrease the relative surface area, and change the burn rate significantly. Additives and coatings can be added to the powder to further modify the burn rate. Normally, very fast powders are used for low-velocity pistols and shotguns, medium-rate powders for magnum pistols and light rifle rounds, and slow powders for large-bore heavy rifle rounds.[1]

[edit] Double base propellants

To further increase the energy of smokeless powder, nitroglycerin can be added in amounts up to 50%. These powders are called "double base powders", and they have the same basic physical properties as single base powders. The nitrocellulose serves to desensitize the highly unstable nitroglycerin, and the nitroglycerin greatly increases the energy density of the resulting powder. Double base powders burn faster than single base powders of the same shape, and in general, the higher the nitroglycerin content of a powder, the faster the burn rate.

[edit] Solid propellants

A recent topic of research has been in the realm of "caseless cartridges". In a caseless cartridge, the propellant is cast as a single solid grain, with the priming compound placed in a hollow at the base, and the bullet glued to the front. Since the single propellant grain is so large (most smokeless powders have grain sizes around 1 mm, a caseless grain will be perhaps 7 mm diameter and 15 mm long), the relative burn rate must be much higher. To reach this rate of burning, caseless propellants often use moderated explosives, such as RDX. While there is at least one experimental military rifle (the H&K G11), and one commercial rifle (made by Voere), that use caseless rounds, they are not having much success. The caseless ammunition is by necessity, not reloadable (a major disadvantage in civilian markets, where reloading is common), and the exposed propellant makes the rounds less rugged. Also, the case in a standard cartridge serves as a seal, keeping gas from escaping the breech. Caseless arms must use a more complex self-sealing breech, which increases the design and manufacturing complexity. Another problem, common to all auto-loading arms but particularly problematic for those firing caseless rounds, is the problem of rounds "cooking off". This is caused by residual heat from the chamber heating the round in the chamber to the point where it ignites, causing an unintentional discharge. Belt-fed machine guns, designed for high volumes of fire, are designed to fire from an open bolt, which means that the round is not chambered until the trigger is pulled, and so there is no chance for the round to cook off before the operator is ready. Open-bolt designs are generally undesirable for anything but belt-fed machineguns and pistolsized sub-machine guns. The reason is that the mass of the bolt, moving forward, causes the gun to lurch in reaction, which significantly reduces the accuracy of the gun. Since one of the motivating factors for the use of caseless rounds is to increase the rate of fire to the degree that several shots can be fired to the same point of aim, anything that reduces the accuracy of those first shots would be counterproductive.

Cased ammunition serves as a heat sink to both carry heat away from the chamber after firing, and to cool the chamber when chambered, reducing the risk of cook off.

[edit] Load density and consistency

Load density is the percentage of the space in the cartridge case that is filled with powder. In general, loads close to 100% density (or even loads where seating the bullet in the case, compresses the powder) ignite and burn more consistently than lower density loads. In cartridges that survived from the black powder cartridge era (examples being .45 Colt, .45-70 Government), the case is much larger than needed to hold the maximum charge of high-density smokeless powder. This allows the powder to shift in the case, piling up near the front, or near the back of the case. This can cause significant variations in burning rate, as powder near the rear of the case will ignite rapidly, but powder near the front of the case will ignite slower. This change has less impact with fast powders. As such, high-capacity, low-density cartridges generally deliver best accuracy with the fastest appropriate powder, although this keeps the total energy low, due to the sharp, high pressure peak. Magnum pistol cartridges reverse this power/accuracy trade off, by using lower density powders that give high load density, and a broad pressure curve. The downside is the increased recoil and muzzle blast from the high powder mass, and high muzzle pressure. The advantage is that the magnum pistol rounds generate accuracy, comparable to a good hunting rifle, and energy sufficient to take medium game at ranges out to 100 yards (100 meters) and beyond. Most rifle cartridges have a high load density with the appropriate powders. Rifle cartridges tend to be bottlenecked, with a wide base narrowing down to a smaller diameter, to hold a light, high-velocity bullet. These cases are designed to hold a large charge of low-density powder, for an even broader pressure curve than a magnum pistol cartridge. These cases require the use of a long rifle barrel to extract their full efficiency, although they are also chambered in rifle-like pistols (single shot or bolt action) with barrels of 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm). One unusual phenomenon occurs when high density powders are used in large capacity rifle cases. Small charges of powder, unless held tightly near the rear of the case by wadding, can apparently detonate when ignited. The mechanism of this phenomenon is not well-known, and generally it is not encountered, except when loading very low velocity subsonic rounds for rifles. These rounds generally have velocities of under 500 ft/s (195 m/s), and are used for indoor shooting, or pest control, where the power and muzzle blast of a full power round is not needed or desired. This detonation problem seems strange because we intuitively think that less propellant will produce less power. A possible explanation for it lies with the relationship between the temperature, pressure and volume of a gas and the fact that the rate at which the propellant burns increases very rapidly with increase of temperature. Temperature is proportional to pressure/volume. So as pressure increases the temperature increases proportionally but as volume increases the temperature falls proportionally to the inverse of the volume. When a normal cartridge is fired under normal circumstances the bullet moving down the barrel increases the volume

containing the hot high pressure gas. That reduces its temperature and holds down the burn rate which is the generator of pressure. This acts as a kind of control as the propellant keeps burning down two thirds or more of the barrel. With a low, non packed charge, the explosion of the primer swirls the propellant particles around in its hot gasses and ignites all of them simultaneously rather than progressively. Because the mass of propellant is so low, the same heat input from the primer heats them to a higher initial temperature and so their first stage burn is at a higher rate. Because there is only a small amount of propellant the pressure is not at first high enough to start the bullet moving quickly and so there is time for the propellant to burn completely at high temperature and pressure while it is still in a small space. It is easy to see that this could create the circumstances for detonation as the increase of volume fights to control the temperature and burn rate.

[edit] Chamber
[edit] Straight vs bottleneck
Straight walled cases were the standard from the beginnings of cartridge arms. With the low burning speed of black powder, the best efficiency was achieved with large, heavy bullets, so the bullet was the largest practical diameter. The large diameter allowed a short, stable bullet with high weight, and the maximum practical bore volume to extract the most energy possible in a given length barrel. There were a few cartridges that had long, shallow tapers, but these were generally an attempt to use an existing cartridge to fire a smaller bullet with a higher velocity and lower recoil. With the advent of smokeless powders, it was possible to generate far higher velocities by using a slow smokeless powder in a large volume case, pushing a small, light bullet. The .30-30 Winchester was one of the first rounds to be designed to use smokeless powder, and it has a distinct shoulder that closely resembles modern cartridges, even though it dates back to the 1890s. Modern cases have shorter necks, sharper shoulder angles, and a rimless design which give better efficiency and feeding, but the .30-30 cartridge and the Winchester model 1894 rifle still account for more game in North America than any other rifle and cartridge combination.

[edit] Aspect ratio and consistency

When selecting a rifle cartridge for maximum accuracy, a short, fat cartridge with very little case taper will generally yield higher efficiency and more consistent velocity than a long, thin cartridge with a lot of case taper (part of the reason for a bottle-necked design). Given current trends towards shorter and fatter cases, such as the new Winchester Super Short Magnum cartridges, it appears the ideal might be a case approaching spherical inside.[2] Target and varmint hunting rounds require the greatest accuracy, so their cases tend to be short, fat, and nearly untapered with sharp shoulders on the case. Short, fat cases also allow short-action weapons to be made lighter and stronger for the same level of performance. The trade-off for this performance is fat rounds which take up more space in a magazine, sharp shoulders that do not feed as easily out of a magazine, and less reliable extraction of the spent round. For these reasons, when reliable feeding is more important than accuracy, such as with military rifles, longer cases with shallower shoulder angles are favored. There has been a long-term trend however, even among military weapons, towards shorter,

fatter cases. The current 7.62 x 51 mm NATO case replacing the longer .30-06 Springfield is a good example, as is the new 6.5 Grendel cartridge designed to increase the performance of the AR-15 family of rifles and carbines.

[edit] Friction and inertia

[edit] Static friction and ignition
Since the burning rate of smokeless powder varies directly with the pressure, the initial pressure buildup has a significant effect on the final velocity, especially in cartridges with fast powders. The friction, holding the bullet in the case, determines how soon after ignition the bullet moves, and since the motion of the bullet increases the volume and drops the pressure, a difference in friction can change the slope of the pressure curve. In general, a tight fit is desired, to the extent of crimping the bullet into the case. In straight-walled rimless cases, such as the .45 ACP, an aggressive crimp is not possible, since the case is held in the chamber by the mouth of the case, but sizing the case to allow a tight interference fit with the bullet, can give the desired result.

[edit] Kinetic friction

The bullet must tightly fit the bore to seal the high pressure of the burning gun powder. This tight fit generates a large quantity of friction. The friction of the bullet in the bore does have a slight impact on the final velocity, but that is generally not much of a concern. Of greater concern is the heat that is generated, due to the friction. At velocities of about 1000 ft/s (390 m/s), lead begins to melt, and deposit in the bore. This lead build-up constricts the bore, increasing the pressure and decreasing the accuracy of subsequent rounds, and is difficult to scrub out, without damaging the bore. Rounds, used at velocities up to 1500 ft/s (585 m/s), can use wax lubricants on the bullet to reduce lead build-up. At velocities over 1500 ft/s (585 m/s), nearly all bullets are jacketed in copper, or a similar alloy that is soft enough not to wear on the barrel, but melts at a high enough temperature to reduce build-up in the bore. Copper build-up does begin to occur in rounds that exceed 2500 ft/s (975 m/s), and a common solution is to impregnate the surface of the bullet with molybdenum disulfide lubricant. This reduces copper build-up in the bore, and results in better long-term accuracy.

[edit] The role of inertia

In the first few inches (centimeters) of travel down the bore, the bullet reaches a significant percentage of its final velocity, even for high-capacity rifles, with slow burning powder. The acceleration is on the order of tens of thousands of gravities, so even a projectile as light as 40 grains (2.6 g), can provide hundreds of pounds-force (over 1000 newtons) of resistance, due to inertia. Changes in bullet mass, therefore, have a huge impact on the pressure curves of smokeless powder cartridges, unlike black powder cartridges. This makes loading or reloading smokeless cartridges require high-precision equipment, and carefully-measured tables of load data for given cartridges, powders, and bullet weights.

[edit] Pressure

This is a graph of a simulation of the 5.56 mm NATO round, being fired from a 20inch barrel. The horizontal axis represents time, the vertical axis represents pressure (green line), bullet travel (red line), and bullet velocity (light blue line). The values shown at top are peak values Energy is imparted to the bullet in a firearm by the pressure of the gases produced by the burning gunpowder. While it seems to casual observers that a higher peak pressures should produce higher velocities, that is not always the case, since measures of peak pressure capture only a small fraction of the time the bullet is accelerating. To achieve maximum performance, the entire duration of the bullet's travel through the barrel must be considered. There are hundreds of powders in existence because powders must be carefully matched to the case volume, case dimensions, bullet dimensions, bullet weight, barrel length, and special bullet features such as moly coating or driving bands. For example, long, heavy bullets are required to be seated so deep in the case that they displace powder, while at the same time requiring a slower powder which gives their greater mass more time to move down the barrel. If the bullet is banded or coated with a lubricant like moly, faster powders can be used as the bullet moves faster due to decreased friction with the barrel. All of these variables must be accommodated within the maximum pressure levels set for the platform. Finding the optimum combination is largely a trial and error process, and may take years to complete. New cartridges with significantly new internal ballistics often bring forth new powders engineered to maximize performance; examples of this are Accurate Arms 2230, designed for use in the .223 Remington, and #9, designed for use in magnum pistol cartridges[1][2].

[edit] Pressure vs distance traveled

This graph shows different pressure curves for powders with different burn rates. The leftmost graph is the same as the large graph above. The middle graph shows a powder with a 25% faster burn rate, and the rightmost graph shows a powder with a 20% slower burn rate. Using powder that is too fast creates a destructive pressure spike that usually has a very short duration. Using powder that is too slow produces poor energy and leaves a lot of unburned powder.

[edit] Peak vs area

Energy is defined as a force exerted over a distance; for example, the work required to lift a one-pound weight, one foot against the pull of gravity defines a foot-pound of energy (lifting one newton, one meter gives one newton-meter of energy, called one joule). If we were to modify the graph to reflect pressure as a function of distance, the area under that curve would be the total energy imparted to the bullet. From this, it can be seen that the way to increase the energy of the bullet is to increase the area under that curve, either by raising the average pressure, or increasing the distance, the bullet travels under pressure (in other words, lengthen the barrel).

[edit] Propellant burnout

Another issue to consider, when choosing a powder burn rate, is the time the powder takes to completely burn vs. the time the bullet spends in the barrel. Since the burn rate of nitrocellulose-based powders increases with increasing pressure, this can be a very difficult interaction to guess, and requires careful testing with gradual changes. Looking carefully at the left graph, there is a change in the curve, at about 0.8 ms. This is the point at which the powder is completely burned, and no new gas is created. With a faster powder, burnout occurs earlier, and with the slower powder, it occurs later. Propellant that is unburned when the bullet reaches the muzzle is wasted it adds no energy to the bullet, but it does add to the recoil and muzzle blast. For maximum power, the powder should burn until just short of the muzzle. Since smokeless powders burn, not detonate, the reaction can only take place on the surface of the powder. Smokeless powders come in a variety of shapes, which serve to determine how fast they burn, and also how the burn rate changes as the powder burns. The simplest shape is a ball powder, which is in the form of round or slightly flattened spheres. Ball powder has a fairly small surface-area-to-volume ratio, so it burns fairly slowly, and as it burns, its surface-area-to-volume ratio decreases. This means as the powder burns, the burn rate slows down.

To some degree, this can be negated by the use of retardant coatings on the surface of the powder, which slows the initial burn rate further, and flattens out the rate of change. Ball powders are generally formulated as slow pistol powders, or fast rifle powders. Flake powders are in the form of flat, round flakes which have a very high surface-area-to-volume ratio. Flake powders have a nearly constant rate of burn, and are usually formulated as fast pistol or shotgun powders. The last common shape is an extruded powder, which is in the form of a cylinder, sometimes hollow. Extruded powders generally have a lower ratio of nitroglycerin to nitrocellulose, and are often progressive burning that is, they burn at a faster rate as they burn. Extruded powders are generally medium to slow rifle powders.

[edit] Muzzle pressure concerns

From the pressure graphs, it can be seen that the residual pressure in the barrel, as the bullet exits, is quite high in this case, over 16 kpsi / 110000 kPa. / 1100 bar. While lengthening the barrel, or reducing the amount of propellant gas, will reduce this pressure, this is often not possible due to issues of firearm size, and minimum required energy. Short-range target guns are, generally, chambered in .22 Long Rifle, or .22 Short, which have very tiny powder capacities, and little residual pressure. When higher energies are required for long-range shooting, hunting or anti-personnel use, high muzzle pressures are a necessary evil. With this high muzzle pressures come increased flash and noise from the muzzle blast, and due to the large powder charges used, higher recoil recoil includes the reaction for, not just the bullet, but also for the powder mass.

[edit] General concerns

[edit] Bore diameter and energy transfer
A firearm, in many ways, is like a piston engine on the power stroke. There is a certain amount of high-pressure gas available, and energy is extracted from it, by making the gas move a piston in this case, the projectile is the piston. The swept volume of the piston determines how much energy can be extracted from the given gas. The more volume that is swept by the piston, the lower is the exhaust pressure (in this case, the muzzle pressure). Any remaining pressure is lost energy. To extract the maximum amount of energy, then, the swept volume is maximized. This can be done in one of two ways increasing the length of the barrel, or increasing the diameter of the projectile. Increasing the barrel length will linearly increase the swept volume, while increasing the diameter will increase the swept volume as the square of the diameter. Since barrel length is limited by practical concerns to about arm's length for a rifle, and much shorter for a handgun, increasing bore diameter is the normal way to increase the efficiency of a cartridge. The limit to bore diameter is generally the sectional density of the projectile (see external ballistics). Larger diameter bullets have much more drag, and so they lose energy very quickly after exiting the barrel. In general, most handguns use bullets between .355 (9 mm) and .45 (11.5 mm) caliber, while most rifles generally range from .223 (5.56 mm) to .32 (8 mm) caliber. There are many exceptions, of course, but bullets in the given ranges provide the best general purpose performance. Handguns use the larger

diameter bullets for greater efficiency in short barrels, and tolerate the long-range velocity loss, since handguns are seldom used for long-range shooting. Handguns that are used for long-range shooting are generally closer to shortened rifles than other handguns.

[edit] Ratio of propellant to projectile mass

Another issue, when choosing or developing a cartridge, is the issue of recoil. The recoil is not just the reaction from the projectile being launched, but also from the powder gas, which will exit the barrel with a velocity, even higher than that of the bullet. For handgun cartridges, with large bullets and small powder charges (a 9 mm, for example, might use 5 grains (320 mg) of powder, and a 115 grain (7.5 g) bullet), this is not a significant force; for a rifle cartridge (a .22-250 Remington, using 40 grains (2.6 g) of powder and a 40 grain (2.6 g) bullet), the powder charge can make for the majority of the recoil force. There is a solution to the recoil issue, though it is not without cost. A muzzle brake or recoil compensator is a device which redirects the powder gas at the muzzle, usually up and back. This acts like a rocket, pushing the muzzle down and forward. The forward push helps negate the feel of the projectile recoil by pulling the firearm forwards. The downward push, on the other hand, helps counteract the rotation imparted by the fact that most firearms have the barrel mounted above the center of gravity. Overt combat guns, large-bore high-powered rifles, long-range handguns chambered for rifle ammunition, and action-shooting handguns designed for accurate rapid fire, all benefit from muzzle brakes. The high-powered firearms use the muzzle brake mainly for recoil reduction, which reduces the battering of the shooter by the severe recoil. The action-shooting handguns redirect all the energy up to counteract the rotation of the recoil, and make following shots faster by leaving the gun on target. The disadvantage of the muzzle brake is a longer, heavier barrel, and a large increase in sound levels behind the muzzle of the rifle. Shooting firearms without hearing protection can eventually damage the operator's hearing. Shooting firearms with muzzle brakes, with no hearing protection, can damage it far faster. Even with adequate hearing protection, the increased pounding of the redirected muzzle blast can quickly cause headaches. Powder-to-projectile-weight ratio also touches on the subject of efficiency. In the case of the .22-250 Remington, more energy goes into propelling the powder gas than goes into propelling the bullet. The .22-250 pays for this by requiring a large case, with lots of powder, all for a fairly small gain in velocity and energy over other .22 caliber cartridges.

[edit] Accuracy and bore characteristics

Nearly all small bore firearms, with the exception of shotguns, have rifled barrels. The rifling imparts a spin on the bullet, which keeps it from tumbling in flight. The rifling is usually in the form of sharp edged grooves cut as helixes along the axis of the bore, anywhere from 2 to 16 in number. The areas between the grooves are known as lands.

Another system, polygonal rifling, gives the bore a polygonal cross section. Polygonal rifling is not very common, used by only a few European manufacturers. The companies that use polygonal rifling claim greater accuracy, lower friction, and less lead and/or copper buildup in the barrel. Traditional land and groove rifling is used in most competition firearms, however, so the advantages of polygonal rifling are unproven. There are three common ways of rifling a barrel: The most basic is to use a single point cutter, drawn down the bore by a machine that carefully controls the rotation of the cutting head relative to the barrel. This is the slowest process, but as it requires the simplest equipment, it is often used by custom gunsmiths, and can result in superbly accurate barrels. The next method is button rifling. This method uses a die with a negative image of the rifling cut on it. This die is drawn down the barrel while carefully rotated, and it swages the inside of the barrel. This "cuts" all the grooves at once (it does not really cut metal), and so is faster than cut rifling. Detractors claim that the process leaves considerable residual stress in the barrel, but world records have been set with button-rifled barrels, so again there is no clear advantage. The last method used is hammer forging. In this process, a slightly undersized, bored barrel is placed around a mandrel that contains a negative image of the entire length of the rifled barrel. The barrel and mandrel are rotated and hammered by power hammers, which forms the inside of the barrel all at once. This is the fastest (and in the long run, cheapest) method of making a barrel, but the equipment is prohibitively expensive for all, but the largest, gun makers. Hammer-forged barrels are strictly mass-produced, so they are generally not capable of top accuracy as produced, but with some careful hand work, they can be made to shoot far better than most shooters are capable of.

The purpose of the barrel is to provide a consistent seal, allowing the bullet to accelerate to a consistent velocity. It must also impart the right spin, and release the bullet consistently, perfectly concentric to the bore. The residual pressure in the bore must be released symmetrically, so that no side of the bullet receives any more or less push than the rest. The muzzle of the barrel is the most critical part, since that is the part that controls the release of the bullet. Some rimfires and airguns actually have a slight constriction, called a choke, in the barrel at the muzzle. This guarantees that the bullet is held securely just before release. To keep a good seal, the bore must be a very precise, constant diameter, or have a slight decrease in diameter from breech to muzzle. Any increase in bore diameter will allow the bullet to shift. This can cause gas to leak past the bullet, affecting the velocity, or cause the bullet to tip, so that it is no longer perfectly coaxial with the bore. High quality barrels are lapped to remove any constrictions in the bore which will cause a change in diameter. The lapping process uses a lead "slug" that is slightly larger than the bore and covered in fine abrasive compound to cut out the constrictions. The slug is passed from breech

to muzzle, so that as it encounters constrictions, it cuts them away, and does no cutting on areas that are larger than the constriction. Many passes are made, and as the bore becomes more uniform, finer grades of abrasive compound are used. The final result is a barrel that is mirror-smooth, and with a consistent or slightly-tapering bore. The hand-lapping technique uses a wooden or soft metal rod to pull or push the slug through the bore, while the newer fire-lapping technique uses specially-loaded, lowpower cartridges to push abrasive-covered soft-lead bullets down the barrel. Another issue that has an effect on the barrel's hold on the bullet is the rifling. When the bullet is fired, it is forced into the rifling, which cuts or "engraves" the surface of the bullet. If the rifling is a constant twist, then the rifling rides in the grooves engraved in the bullet, and everything is secure and sealed. If the rifling has a decreasing twist, then the changing angle of the rifling in the engraved grooves of the bullet causes the rifling to become narrower than the grooves. This allows gas to blow by, and loosens the hold of the bullet on the barrel. An increasing twist, however, will make the rifling become wider than the grooves in the bullet, maintaining the seal. When a rifled-barrel blank is selected for a gun, careful measurement of the inevitable variations in manufacture can determine if the rifling twist varies, and put the highertwist end at the muzzle. The muzzle of the barrel is the last thing to touch the bullet before it goes into ballistic flight, and as such has the greatest potential to disrupt the bullet's flight. The muzzle must allow the gas to escape the barrel symmetrically; any asymmetry will cause an uneven pressure on the base of the bullet, which will disrupt its flight. The muzzle end of the barrel is called the "crown", and it is usually either beveled or recessed to protect it from bumps or scratches that might affect accuracy. A sign of a good crown will be a symmetric, star-shaped pattern on the muzzle end of the barrel, formed by soot deposited, as the powder gases escape the barrel. If the star is uneven, then it is a sign of an uneven crown, and an inaccurate barrel. Before the barrel can release the bullet in a consistent manner, it must grip the bullet in a consistent manner. The part of the barrel between where the bullet exits the cartridge, and engages the rifling, is called the "throat", and the length of the throat is the "freebore". In some firearms, the freebore is all but nonexistent the act of chambering the cartridge forces the bullet into the rifling. This is common in lowpowered rimfire target rifles. The placement of the bullet in the rifling ensures that the transition between cartridge, and rifling, is quick and stable. The downside is that the cartridge is firmly held in place, and attempting to extract the unfired round can be difficult, to the point of even pulling the bullet from the cartridge in extreme cases. With high-powered cartridges, there is an additional disadvantage to a short freebore. A significant amount of force is required to engrave the bullet, and this additional resistance can raise the pressure in the chamber by quite a bit. To mitigate this effect, higher-powered rifles tend to have more freebore, so that the bullet is allowed to gain some momentum, and the chamber pressure is allowed to drop slightly, before the bullet engages the rifling. The downside is that the bullet hits the rifling when already moving, and any slight misalignment can cause the bullet to tip, as it engages the rifling. This will, in turn, mean that the bullet does not exit the barrel coaxially. The amount of freebore is a function of both the barrel and the cartridge. The manufacturer or gunsmith who cuts the chamber will determine the amount of space

between the cartridge case mouth and the rifling. Setting the bullet further forward or back in the cartridge can decrease or increase the amount of freebore, but only within a small range. Careful testing by the ammunition loader can optimize the amount of freebore to maximize accuracy, while keeping the peak pressure within limits.

[edit] Autoloading firearms

Autoloading firearms (this term covers automatic and semi-automatic firearms) harness some of the energy of firing to load a new round from an ammunition-feeding device. This loading generally involves: extracting and ejecting the fired cartridge case; obtaining a new cartridge from a clip, magazine or belt, cocking the hammer or striker; and securing the new cartridge in the chamber, ready to fire.

Automatic firearms will, if the trigger remains depressed, also fire the new round, upon finishing the cycle. There are a number of different mechanisms to harness the energy required, and they vary in complexity and suitability for different purposes. One issue that applies to all autoloading mechanisms is the mass of the reciprocating components. In all cases, the firing energy is harnessed to open the mechanism, and a spring or springs are used to close the mechanism. The spring must have sufficient energy to close the action, and perform all tasks that are involved in that, but the spring itself does very little to keep the action closed. The energy that powers the action is only available for the time it takes for the projectile to leave the barrel, or less. This energy is converted to kinetic energy in the reciprocating parts, and the amount of energy required to propel those parts to the required velocity, is what is needed for reliable operation with a given powder, bullet, and cartridge combination. Since changing the mass of the firearm parts is out of the scope of the average user (this amounts to a redesign of the firearm in most cases), it is up to the user to select ammunition that will allow the firearm to function.

[edit] Blowback firearms

The simplest autoloading firearms are known as "blowback actions". In a blowback gun, the bolt that holds the cartridge in the chamber is held in place by a spring, called the recoil spring. Upon firing, the same pressure that pushes the bullet forward, pushes the case backwards. The same effect that operates the Blish lock operates between the cartridge and the chamber walls, which serves to hold the case in the breech for a small amount of time. This effect is not enough to keep it there, however, and the case pushes out of the chamber, moving the bolt with it. The bolt is far more massive than the bullet, so the bolt moves only a very short distance, before the bullet exits the barrel, and the pressure drops to ambient. In this short distance, however, the bolt has gained sufficient momentum to eject the cartridge, cock the hammer, and compress the recoil spring. The compressed recoil spring then forces the bolt back forward, chambering a new round. One interesting advantage of the blowback action is the fact that an extractor, used to pull the cartridge out of the chamber, is not required during firing, since the cartridge is pushing the bolt out. Since extractors tend

to be one of the more delicate parts of most firearms designs, this helps increase reliability under extreme conditions. Blowback actions are very simple, and inexpensive to build. They are also generally very reliable. Most semi-automatic rimfires, and many submachine guns, are blowback actions. The disadvantage of the blowback action is the requirement that the bolt be so much heavier than the bullet. This is why its use is generally restricted to handguns in calibers of 9 mm Parabellum or smaller, and in carbines and submachine guns to calibers of .45 ACP and smaller. There are a number of actions that are, in essence, blowback designs, but use a variety of approaches to reduce the velocity of the bolt, so that a combination of heavier bullets and lighter bolts may be used. These are called "delayed blowback actions". Techniques involve using: a separate Blish lock mechanism; a piston that fills with powder gas to push the bolt closed; and a two-part cammed-bolt that uses the first bit of the cartridges movement to move the main body of the bolt back a large distance. See roller-delayed blowback.

These designs allow slightly higher-powered cartridges to be used with no additional modifications. The cammed-bolt design has been used with high-powered rifle cartridges with some success. However, it also requires the addition of a fluted chamber to reduce the Blish-lock effect, which would otherwise blow the back out of the cartridge.

[edit] Gas-operated firearms

Gas-operated firearms differ from blowback actions in that the bolt is solidly locked into the breech of the barrel, at the time of firing. This locking can be done with a rotating cam, or a lateral bolt, or any number of other ways. In this, gas-operated firearms are not significantly different than manually operated bolt, pump, or leveraction designs. What makes a difference is how energy is provided to unlock, and open the bolt. At some point in the barrel, there is a small hole called a "gas tap", which allows the high-pressure gas to escape. This hole can be anywhere from just in front of the chamber to just behind the muzzle. This gas is directed into a cylinder and piston arrangement (fixed cylinder and moving piston, or fixed piston and moving cylinder, both have been used). The movement of the piston or cylinder is captured to provide the energy to operate the action. The concerns, when making ammunition for gas operated firearms, center around the gas tap location and the operating parameters of the cylinder and piston. The pressure in the barrel, as the bullet passes the gas tap, must be within a certain range of pressure, and the pressure must persist for a certain amount of time. Too little, and there will not be enough inertia gathered, to cycle the action; too much, and parts will move too fast to operate reliably, and the extra inertia will greatly increase wear and tear. The formulation of the powder must also be considered. Some powders produce more soot than others, and this soot can build up in the gas tap, or piston and cylinder

area, and cause malfunctions. The gas tap is also subject to fouling from lead-buildup in guns that can fire non-jacketed bullets. A case in point is the original M-16 rifle, which is a gas operated firearm. It was designed to use an IMR-type powder, which had certain burn characteristics. The U.S. military, against the advice of the designer, switched to a ball-type powder, with a different burn rate which yielded higher velocities. This also altered the pressure at the gas tap enough to increase the bolt velocity enough to tear apart cartridges, cause misfeeds, and generally turn what was a reliable rifle into a nightmare situation. Gas action firearms require fairly high pressures to operate, and so are generally found in high-powered hunting or military rifles, and magnum pistols.

[edit] Recoil-operated firearms

The last common type of autoloading firearm is the recoil-operated type. Recoiloperated firearms, as the name implies, rely on the recoil generated by firing, rather than the gas pressure, used by blowbacks and gas-operated firearms. Recoil-operated firearms are locked-breech firearms, and come in three varieties, long recoil, short recoil, and inertia operation. Long recoil operation is fairly rare, and used in heavily recoiling firearms, like shotguns, automatic grenade launchers, and heavy machine guns. In a long recoil action, the barrel and bolt recoil as a unit, separate from the rest of the gun, compressing two recoil springs on the way. When the bolt and barrel reach the full rearward extent, the bolt locks back, and the barrel springs forward, propelled by one of the recoil springs. When the barrel reaches the full forward position, then the bolt is released, and moves forward under the power of the other recoil spring. Short recoil operation is almost exclusively found in pistols, and it is the most common action type in pistols of 9 mm Parabellum or greater. In a short recoil action, the barrel and bolt travel backwards for only a short distance before the barrel is unlocked (usually by a camming action), and the bolt continues on its own. When the bolt returns to the barrel, still locked in the rearward position, the barrel is cammed back into the locked position, and the gun is again ready to fire. Two notable exceptions are the excellent MG-42/MG3 machine gun and Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle[3] Inertia operation is a fairly new design, and is currently used almost exclusively in shotguns. Rather than the bolt and barrel recoiling independently of the frame of the firearm, inertia action uses the recoil of the entire gun relative to the bolt carrier. This recoil compresses a spring between the bolt and carrier, and when the carrier rebounds under the spring pressure, the resulting movement cycles the action. This requires a heavy recoil, which is why it is chosen for shotguns. Ammunition intended for recoil-operated guns needs to generate a sufficient amount of recoil to move the bolt and barrel back at the required velocity. This means that bullet weights are the primary concern. Cutting the bullet mass in half would require doubling the velocity to compensate, which would be doubling the kinetic energy compared to the heavy bullet. This requires a much heavier load of faster burning

powder and a much higher peak pressure, which is usually not possible given the pressure constraints of the cartridge. Because of this it is rare to find a short recoil gun that can handle a minimum bullet mass that is less than half the maximum mass, and most have a much smaller range of weights.

[edit] References
1. ^ Powder Burnrate Chart 2. ^ The Short Mag Revolution 3. ^ Barrett semi-automatic .50 caliber short-action sniper rifle

[edit] See also

External ballistics Percussion cap, for an early history of priming powder and percussion caps Terminal ballistics Transitional ballistics