Analysis of supercritical methane in rocket engine cooling channels

Luka Denies, Barry Zandbergen, P. Natale, D. Ricci, M. Invigorito

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Abstract

Methane is a promising propellant for liquid rocket engines. As a regenerative coolant, it would be close to its critical point, complicating cooling analysis. This study encompasses the development and validation of a new, open-source computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method for analysis of methane cooling channels. Validation with experimental data has been carried out, showing an accuracy within 20 K for wall temperature and 10% for pressure drop. It is shown that the turbulence model has only a limited impact on the simulation results and that the wall function approach generates valid results. Finally, a cooling analysis is performed to compare two thrust chamber materials. A traditional copper alloy is compared to aluminium as chamber material for a small moderate-pressure oxygen/ methane engine. The analyses show that aluminium is a feasible chamber material only if a thermal barrier coating is applied. In addition, a significantly higher cooling channel pressure drop is incurred for an aluminium chamber than for a copper chamber due to the lower allowable temperature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Space Propulsion 2016
Subtitle of host publicationRome, Italy
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventSpace propulsion - Marriott Rome Park Hotel, Rome, Italy
Duration: 2 May 20166 May 2016
http://www.propulsion2016.com/

Conference

ConferenceSpace propulsion
Abbreviated titleSP2016
CountryItaly
CityRome
Period2/05/166/05/16
Internet address

Keywords

  • supercritical methane
  • regenerative cooling
  • thrust chamber
  • cooling channels
  • CFD
  • CHT
  • copper
  • aluminium

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  • Cite this

    Denies, L., Zandbergen, B., Natale, P., Ricci, D., & Invigorito, M. (2016). Analysis of supercritical methane in rocket engine cooling channels. In Proceedings of the Space Propulsion 2016: Rome, Italy [SP2016_3124783]