Hypergolic ignition of a catalytically promoted fuel with rocket grade hydrogen peroxide
The ignition delay for the incipient sustained reaction of hypergolic propellants is of crucial importance. Too short of a delay can lead to injector damage while too long of a delay can lead to very large pressure spikes and engine failure. The coupling of the physical and chemical processes controlling the ignition delays of hypergolic propellants renders the direct analysis of the transient ignition process very difficult. Well defined test conditions must, therefore, be specified to properly study the factors influencing the ignition delays of hypergolic propellants. Theories regarding the thermal ignition of conventional hypergolic propellants, such as nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine-based fuels, have been established. The goals of the present research are to investigate the applicability of thermal ignition theories to the ignition processes occurring between a catalytically promoted fuel and hydrogen peroxide and to develop a model of the incipient reactions. The hypergolic fuel considered in the study is a methanol-based mixture containing a soluble metal catalyst. First, physical and chemical factors influencing an ignition event between liquid hypergolic propellants are discussed. Whenever possible, emphasis is placed on data obtained with fuels that are hypergolic with rocket grade hydrogen peroxide. Following this review, the applicability of traditional vaporization and ignition theories to the ignition of a catalytically promoted fuel with rocket grade hydrogen peroxide are discussed. An experimental program aimed at determining the effects of initial ambient pressure, initial ambient gas properties, and hydrogen peroxide concentration on ignition delay is presented. Results show that ignition delay can be reduced by increasing the hydrogen peroxide concentration or the initial ambient pressure. The combined effects of large thermal conductivity and large mass diffusion coefficient of helium rich environments are postulated to be responsible for the significant increase in ignition delay observed with the lowest hydrogen peroxide concentrations. The precise assessment of the relative contribution of heat generation and heat loss due to transport of the ambient gas were difficult to determine in the present experiment. The agreement between the trends and predictions partially substantiate a phenomenological model of hypergolic ignition of a catalytically promoted fuel with rocket grade hydrogen peroxide.
Anderson, Purdue University.
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