Performance Evaluation and Thermal Management Solutions for a Sustainable Microsized Hydrogen-Powered Turbo-Shaft Engine
Baranov, Nikolai, "Performance Evaluation and Thermal Management Solutions for a Sustainable Microsized Hydrogen-Powered Turbo-Shaft Engine" (2023). Discovery Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Research Internship. Paper 5.
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Micro Gas Turbine Hydrogen Fuel Thermal Management Sustainability
Analyzing the aerospace and automotive industries, there is a transition to sustainable energy generation. Aiming to bridge industrial emissions with the worldwide net zero goal by 2050, one widely considered solution for long-range drones and small aircraft is compact turbo-shaft engines combusting clean hydrogen gas to produce shaft work. The small size and energy-dense fuel allow for a universal powerplant with high specific power output that fits a wide variety of existing solutions. One such micro-sized turboshaft internal combustion engine was created to test the potential power output, thermal management, and combustor optimization of the existing stainless steel assembly. The computational models predicted a potential power output of 72 kW from the turbine assembly, with the compressor dissipating 70.5 kW, indicating a usable 1.5 kW from the overall engine. During standard operation at a rotational speed of 98,000 RPM, the models predicted thermal failure of the rear combustor wall after reaching the operational time mark of 2 minutes, which was later physically verified. During data collection, several thermocouples and strain sensors indicated heat concentration and compression near the corners of the rectangular combustor. Additional ventilation was created, allowing cooler air to circulate the outgoing exhaust gases faster with a relative loss of combustor performance due to additional turbulence. Overall, the project has proven that micro gas turbines can be utilized for clean power generation on larger drones. Future developments may prompt the use of higher-grade materials and thermal insulation to help boost the thermodynamic performance of this promising potential solution.