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Space Engineering [clear filter]
Friday, October 19

2:15pm EDT

Development of a Flight-ready, small-scale, Rotating Detonation Engine
For the last 20 years, there has been a search for new propulsion devices based on detonation waves as the main process of energy conversion. Detonation waves are a specific type of chemical reaction process during which a reactant mixture is initially compressed by a strong shock wave to a very high pressure and temperature, thereby triggering high rates of chemical reaction and energy release. The presence of strong shock waves within the structure of detonation waves means that high levels of thrust can be achieved with a lower degree of initial compression. The high pressures and temperatures involved during the chemical reactions also makes it possible to achieve higher thermodynamic efficiency. Possible detonation wave based engines explored so far include the pulse detonation engine (PDE), the oblique detonation wave engine (ODWE) and, for the last 10 years, the rotating detonation engine (RDE). The RDE is of particular interest as it can produce thrust at zero vehicle speed, unlike the ODWE; it involves only a single ignition event unlike the required high frequency repetitive ignitions of PDEs; and exhibits a globally steady flow field, unlike the inherently pulsatile flow of PDEs, making traditional nozzle technologies adaptable to the RDE. Given that the detonation waves travel circumferentially in an RDE, the device is also more compact and thus potentially lighter than PDEs and conventional chemical rocket engines.
In this presentation, we outline the preliminary design procedure of an RDE and its fuel and oxidizer feed systems for a small-scale (roughly 10 cm diameter) rocket. There are multiple design considerations for the development of an RDE for rocket flight applications. Beyond minimizing the engine weight, mass flow rate and fuel type have a direct impact on the engine’s configuration as well as the material selection. In an RDE of a given size and fuel type, a minimum mass flow rate must be achieved to sustain a single, rotating detonation. This minimum mass flow rate is a function of the reactant mixture injection thermodynamic state, as well as its detonation properties. The reactant mixture must detonate easily and exhibit a small detonation cell size. Furthermore, the fuel and oxidizer are more easily stored in liquid form, which either places additional constraints on the rocket design or means using less detonable reactant mixtures. In the current work, we explore the design of H2/O2, C2H4/O2 and C2H4/N2O fueled engines. The effect of weight reduction on the engine heat loading is examined for short burn durations using one-dimensional models.


Sean Connolly-Boutin

Masters Student, Concordia University
Space enthusiast and recent Concordia University graduate pursuing a masters in mechanical engineering. I have been involved with Prof. Kiyanda, pursuing studies in the field of compressible, reactive flows applied to aerospace propulsion.

Slater Covenden

Aerospace Eng., Concordia University
Space enthusiast studying at Concordia University, I have recently been involved in conducting research under prof. Kiyanda on supersonic compressible flow.

Friday October 19, 2018 2:15pm - 2:35pm EDT
Room CD Concordia Conference Center, MB Building 9th floor, 1450 Guy St, Montreal, QC H3H 0A1

2:35pm EDT

PERWAVES combustion experiment performed on the Maxus 9 sounding rocket

The combustion of metal suspensions occupies an important place in modern technology, such as propulsion or chemical safety. Metals have even been proposed as a possible carbon-free energy carrier as well as a propellant for in-situ production on the Moon or on Mars. It has been discovered that for a given field of parameters, the heterogeneous flames exhibit an unusual behavior. The flame cease to propagate as continuous fronts and become dominated by discrete effects, leading to low-velocity percolation-like propagation. This phenomenon has been reported in other areas of science such as in self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS), chemical kinetics, or biology; the study of discrete flames in metal suspensions may therefore be crucial in understanding front propagation in many of these systems. Due to particle settling and buoyancy-driven disruptions of the flame, both caused by gravity, a clear parametric study of discrete flames can only be realized in microgravity environments. This lead to the PERWAVES experiment, performed in a microgravity environment aboard the European Space Agency sounding rocket Maxus 9, launched on April 7th, 2017. The tests involved the propagation of flames of iron suspensions dispersed in oxygen/xenon gas. The particle concentration was varied and two different oxygen/xenon proportions, 20%/80% and 40%/60% respectively, were used. It was found that flames propagate at low average speed (~1 cm/s), insensitive to combustion time of individual particles, in agreement with discrete regime predictions.

avatar for Jan Palecka

Jan Palecka

PhD student, McGill University
PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, working in the area of Combustion and Reactive Materials. My main specialization is heterogeneous combustion in metal suspensions. During my PhD, I have been tasked with the preaparation and analysis of the PERWAVES project, which has been performed... Read More →

Friday October 19, 2018 2:35pm - 2:55pm EDT
Room CD Concordia Conference Center, MB Building 9th floor, 1450 Guy St, Montreal, QC H3H 0A1

2:55pm EDT

Bringing Interstellar Travel Down to Earth
Recent advances in photonics and related fields have driven the development of technologies that may make interstellar flight a reality for people alive today. Specifically, the development of low-cost fiber-based lasers, which have followed a Moore’s Law-like growth in recent decades, would enable millions of lasers to be built in a modular fashion and then phase-locked together and act as a single optical element, able to focus their power onto a reflected sail (lightsail) that can be accelerated to 20% the speed of light in a matter of minutes.  Other technologies, such as low absorptivity materials (originally developed for fiber optic telecom) and the incredible miniaturization of sensors, gyros, etc., driven by the smartphone wars, means that an interstellar spacecraft massing just one gram could be sent to flyby nearby exoplanets and then beam HD-quality images back to earth in a 20-year mission. A number of technical challenges exist, however, ongoing work in the lab seeks to drive down the technological uncertainties. In this talk, a nascent research program at McGill University to examine the engineering aspects of this concept—focused on the dynamics of the light sail material and its response to dust grain impacts—will be presented, and intersections between laser-driven starflight and more down-to-earth technologies will be explored. 

avatar for Dr. Andrew Higgins

Dr. Andrew Higgins

Professor, McGill University
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, performing research on ultra-high-speed dynamic phenomena with application to advanced spaceflight concepts.

Friday October 19, 2018 2:55pm - 3:15pm EDT
Room CD Concordia Conference Center, MB Building 9th floor, 1450 Guy St, Montreal, QC H3H 0A1
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