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Title: Design and Testing of a Liquid Nitrous Oxide and Ethanol Fueled Rocket Engine

A small-scale, bi-propellant, liquid fueled rocket engine and supporting test infrastructure were designed and constructed at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC). This facility was used to evaluate liquid nitrous oxide and ethanol as potential rocket propellants. Thrust and pressure measurements along with high-speed digital imaging of the rocket exhaust plume were made. This experimental data was used for validation of a computational model developed of the rocket engine tested. The developed computational model was utilized to analyze rocket engine performance across a range of operating pressures, fuel-oxidizer mixture ratios, and outlet nozzle configurations. A comparative study of the modeling of a liquid rocket engine was performed using NASA CEA and Cantera, an opensource equilibrium code capable of being interfaced with MATLAB. One goal of this modeling was to demonstrate the ability of Cantera to accurately model the basic chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics, and transport properties for varied fuel and oxidizer operating conditions. Once validated for basic equilibrium, an expanded MATLAB code, referencing Cantera, was advanced beyond CEAs capabilities to predict rocket engine performance as a function of supplied propellant flow rate and rocket engine nozzle dimensions. Cantera was found to comparable favorably to CEA for making equilibrium calculations,more » supporting its use as an alternative to CEA. The developed rocket engine performs as predicted, demonstrating the developedMATLAB rocket engine model was successful in predicting real world rocket engine performance. Finally, nitrous oxide and ethanol were shown to perform well as rocket propellants, with specific impulses experimentally recorded in the range of 250 to 260 seconds.« less
  1. New Mexico Inst. of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM (United States)
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Report Number(s):
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Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
33 ADVANCED PROPULSION SYSTEMS Rocket Engine; Nitrous Oxide; Ethanol; Propellant; NASA CEA; Cantera; Computational Modeling; Test Facility