Martin Sørensen

Ungdommens Naturvidenskablige Forening

Development of small regeneratively cooled rocket engines


Many satellites require thrusters to change trajectories, deorbit at the end of their lifetime to avoid becoming space debris, or for attitude control and docking maneuvers. Mono-propellant thrusters, a thruster that only uses one chemical as the propellant (fuel), is often used for these applications but are unfavorable as they typically use very toxic chemicals and have relatively low performance. Available thrusters also often use exotic materials. This project aims to address the above listed issues by using premixed N2O and ethanol in a small regeneratively cooled liquid bi-propellant rocket engine (a rocket engine that uses two chemicals for propulsion) made of 3D printed aluminium. This enables higher performing, smaller, lighter, and more powerful engines, which uses nontoxic and storable propellants. For this project a custom analysis tool capable of modelling the supersonic flow inside the nozzle, the flow inside the cooling channels, and the heat transfer between them, has been created. This software has been used to design a small rocket engine. Static test firings have been performed. The first test failed to achieve ignition due to a faulty igniter design. Tests with a new ignition system achieved combustion and supersonic flow but was cut short by a non-optimal injector design. This test is still considered to be a success as all subsystems and components, apart from the injector, performed perfectly, and supersonic exhaust was achieved.