The students are making a central part of the new engine - called the thrust chamber or combustor - as part of
Such a system requires a high-performance, lightweight rocket engine, said
Research findings are detailed in a paper being presented during the
The work began as a senior design project in 2010, initiated by students in a propulsion course taught by
"The students worked amazingly hard on this and were committed to finishing it," Anderson said. "It was a pretty remarkable feat."
Students not only developed the engine's thrust chamber, but also a system to liquefy methane from methane gas.
"By liquefying our own methane, we reduced the propellant cost and challenges in transporting the propellant," said Bedard, who led efforts to continue the work after completing the senior design project.
The research paper was authored by Bedard, Anderson, and graduate students
The eventual goal of the project is to build a lightweight thrust chamber, which requires a thin-walled combustor. Having a thin wall makes it essential to properly cool all of the chamber surfaces, particularly portions that heat up the most. The recent test focused on measuring the "temperature profile" of the thrust chamber wall.
"Propellants burning in the chamber result in extreme temperatures along the chamber walls," Bedard said. "To cool the chamber effectively we need to know exactly where the cooling must be applied. Temperatures inside the combustor can approach 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The engine has to run for about two minutes at a time, so keeping the walls cool is critical. The data we are getting from these tests will help us design an optimized cooling approach."
Also involved in the project were students
Information about the project is available at the Purdue Propulsion YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKTsJ2xOCw1Ks2VzjCLgkNQ
Temperature profile for liquid oxygen-methane thrust chamber
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