Sei sulla pagina 1di 32

University of Hertfordshire

Investigation into the Injector


Configuration of a Hybrid Rocket Motor
Jamie Smith
Copyright and Liability Statements

© University of Hertfordshire and Jamie Smith 2008

The right of Jamie Smith to be recognised as the author of this work has been asserted by him
in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

All rights reserved. With the exception of printing for personal study, no part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior
written permission of the copyright holders.

The information presented in this report is the result of a student’s programme of


undergraduate study, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted for any consequences
arising from the use of this information in any way, including but not limited to personal
injury and loss of or damage to property. Anyone using this information should first verify its
correctness and suitability from other sources.

2
Abstract
There is a continuous study into Hybrid Rocket motors and their specific areas. This is an
ongoing investigation into improving the performance and fuel efficiency of the motor. The
injector configuration gives the motor the ability to combine the hybrid fuels together. A
redesigned configuration may increase or decrease this ability. Changing the motor’s
characteristics in order to improve the efficiency of the motor will be explored. An introduction
and background of hybrid rocket motors will give and understanding into the various
characteristics. Developing the ideas to improve the efficiency and testing to produce an
outcome that is outlined in the aim of the investigation. Comparing the results produced with
the original configuration to produce evidence that the design follows the outline of the project.

Acknowledgements
The author would like to express their apparition to the following people who have contributed
their time to enhance this investigation:

Ray Wilkinson – Academic Supervisor

Ian Currie – AADE Technician, (Health and Safety)

Chris Childs – Manufacturing Technician

Richard Tosh – Colleague

Mike Reynolds – Colleague

Jason McHugh – Colleague

3
Contents

Contents
1.0 Project Specification ................................................................................................................. 6
3.0 Introduction................................................................................................................................ 7
3.1 A brief history of Rocketry ...................................................................................................... 7
3.2 The Rocket ................................................................................................................................ 7
3.3 Rocket Motors .......................................................................................................................... 8
3.3.1 Solid Fuel Motor ................................................................................................................. 9
3.3.2 Hybrid Rocket Motor ........................................................................................................ 10
3.4 Hybrid Rocket Oxidiser.......................................................................................................... 11
3.4.1 Common hybrid rocket oxidisers ..................................................................................... 11
3.4.2 Oxidiser handling & Storage ............................................................................................ 11
3.5.1 Common hybrid rocket fuel grains .................................................................................. 12
3.6 Hybrid Rocket Injection ......................................................................................................... 12
3.6.1 Direct injection into the fuel port .................................................................................... 12
3.6.2 Injection into a pre-combustion chamber ....................................................................... 12
3.7 The Hybrid Rocket Motor used in the Investigation ........................................................... 13
4.0 Design & Development ........................................................................................................... 14
4.1 Injector Configurations .......................................................................................................... 14
4.1.1 Original Design ................................................................................................................. 14
4.1.2 Last Years’ Injector Configuration Designs ..................................................................... 15
Figure 10 – Pentamax 54mm injector set-up (Source: Propulsion Polymers) ....................... 15
4.1.3 Injector Configuration Development ............................................................................... 16
4.2 Final Injector Configuration Assembly ................................................................................. 18
5.0 Testing ....................................................................................................................................... 19
5.1 Flow Visualisations ................................................................................................................ 19
5.1.1 Low Pressure Water Test @ 50psi ................................................................................... 19
5.1.2 High Pressure Water & Oxidiser Test .............................................................................. 20
5.1.3 Oxidiser characteristics within a Hybrid motor setup .................................................... 21
5.2 Motor Firing ............................................................................................................................ 23
5.2.1 Fuel Grain Regression ..................................................................................................... 23
5.2.2 Thrust Curve Data ........................................................................................................... 23
5.2.3 Apparatus for the experiment ........................................................................................ 24
5.2.4 Preparation of the Motor ................................................................................................ 25
5.2.5 Test Procedure ................................................................................................................ 25
6.0 Analysis of Results & Discussion .......................................................................................... 26
6.1 Fuel Grain Regression ............................................................................................................ 26
6.1.1 Original Configuration Fuel Grain .................................................................................. 26
6.1.2 New Configuration Fuel Grain ........................................................................................ 27
6.1.3 Comparison of tested fuel grains ................................................................................... 28
6.2 Hybrid Rocket Thrust Curve ................................................................................................. 28
6.2.1 Original Configuration Thrust Curve ............................................................................. 28
6.2.2 New configuration Thrust Curve ................................................................................... 29
6.2.3 Limitations ....................................................................................................................... 30
6.2.4 Further Work ................................................................................................................... 30
7.0 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 30

4
8.0 References & Bibliography ....................................................................................................... 31
8.1 References............................................................................................................................... 31
8.2 Bibliography ........................................................................................................................... 32
9.0 Appendixes.................................................................................................................................. 32

5
1.0 Project Specification

Project Title:

Investigation into injector configuration hybrid rocket motors

Aims:
The project aims to improve the atomisation of a hybrid rocket motor injector in order to
improve the specific impulse of the motor

Objectives:

Produce project plan to keep scheduled throughout the project

Research into hybrid rocket motors and focus on the injector configuration

Development of the problem and define a question so that a path can be followed

Design and Develop ideas towards injector configuration, on the injector itself and on the layout
of the injector body assembly within the rocket

Choose a final design and send drafts off for manufacturing

Test the configuration on the test rig and compare the results against the injector configuration
from the control, (thrust impulse, total impulse, regression rate, burn time, etc…)

Collect Analysis of the testing and evaluate the results

Conclude the overall results

Write up report

2.0 Main Focus


The project is to improve the atomisation of a hybrid rocket motor injector in order to improve
the specific impulse of the motor
A development and improvement of the way the oxidiser (N2O) is injected into the fuel grain
(Polypropylene) aiming to make to motor more efficient.

Finding out various ways the Hybrid motor’s oxidiser can be injected into the fuel grain and

deciding on a final design to be developed and tested.

6
3.0 Introduction

3.1 A brief history of Rocketry


Rocketry was discovered in China over 2000 years ago. Solid, propelled, unmanned vehicles
were used for military purposes as protection from enemies and for the more light hearted
celebratory purposes.
Until the present day rockets are still used for the same reasons, but have exceeded in all areas
massively. Rockets are used for the military against their enemies and used for scientific
experimentation. New ways to develop space flight in manned and unmanned vehicles are being
explored. In this new generation of rocketry, one does not have to be a multi-million dollar
business to fly rockets, all one needs is an interest and a level of expertise to become an amateur
rocketier. Amateur rockets are an important part of rocketry experimentation. Propulsion,
injection, parachute systems and vehicle development are areas that are researched and
developed.

3.2 The Rocket


The rocket is sectioned up into three different areas:

Parachute System

Vehicle

Rocket Motor
Figure 1 - General Configuration of a rocket motor

7
3.3 Rocket Motors

Two main Categories of Rocket Motor:

Solid Motors
Hybrid Motors

All motors are classified into different levels regarding to their performance, where they are
designated a letter ranging from A to O showing their total impulse that is produced and is
measured in Newton seconds (N.s). See Table 1:

Class Total Impulse

A 1.26 - 2.50 N·s

B 2.51 - 5.00 N·s

C 5.01 - 10.00 N·s

D 10.01 - 20.00 N·s

E 20.01 - 40.00 N·s

F 40.01 - 80.00 N·s

G 80.01 - 160.00 N·s

H 160.01 - 320.00 N·s

I 320.01 - 640.00 N·s

J 640.01 - 1280.00 N·s

K 1,280.01 - 2,560.00 N·s

L 2,560.01 - 5,120.00 N·s

M 5,120.01 - 10,240.00 N·s

N 10,240.01 - 20,480.00 N·s

O 20,480.01 - 40,960.00 N·s

Table 1 - Class and Total Impulse of Rocket motor (Source: University of Hertfordshire)

8
3.3.1 Solid Fuel Motor
Almost all rocket propellants consist of an oxidiser and a fuel. In this type of motor, a solid
propellant is used. The propellant can either be a BP (black powder) or AP (Ammonium
perchlorate). As an example black powder consists of charcoal, potassium nitrate and sulphur.
The fuel is the charcoal, the oxidizer is potassium nitrate and the sulphur is the catalyst. These
are mixed together to produce the motor’s solid propellant fuel.
Both fuels are contained within a cylinder. The user can either have a paper material for single
use only or they can purchase a reload cylinder that is made of a more rigid material and can be
repeatedly used.

Delay Charge

Nozzle

Ejection Charge
External Motor Casing
Propellant
Figure 2 - Solid motor configuration

Black Powder (BP) Motors


BP motors are less powered and their impulses are classed A – D. These are the main engines
used in model rocketry. They are built by Estes and surrounded by a paper cylinder

Figure 3 - Estes D12 BP motor


(Source: Estes Rockets)

Ammonium Perchlorate (AP) Motors


AP motors are used in mid power rocketry. They are produced by Aerotech and range from
classes D to N. Cesaroni also produce a range which fall into classes G to N.

Figure 4 - Aerotech White Lightning reloads

(Source: Aerotech Rocketry)

9
3.3.2 Hybrid Rocket Motor
Hybrid motors are different from solid motors because they combine a solid fuel with a liquid
oxidiser where other motors just use a solid propellant or a liquid propellant.

Venting Bulkhead
Retaining Ring

O-Ring

Oxidiser Section
External Motor Casing

Injector & Body

Fuel Port
Fuel Grain

Phenolic Nozzle Insulator Reusable Nozzle

Nozzle Washer Retaining Ring

Figure 5 – Hybrid Rocket motor set-up

All the parts are sealed by a number of o-rings and retaining rings to prevent and ensure a
reliable leak free performance of the motor.

The oxidiser and the fuel are separated from each other until they are ready for firing and the
oxidiser is injected into the fuel grain to produce thrust.

10
3.4 Hybrid Rocket Oxidiser
The most common oxidiser that is used within rocketry is nitrous oxide (N2O). Being cheap and
safe are some of its advantages. This is not the only gas oxidiser that is used but N 2O has better
advantages over all the other liquids.

Nitrous oxide can stay in a liquid form and pressurised at higher temperatures allowing the
oxidiser to be injected into the combustion chamber without the use of pumps. This is good as it
reduces the motor’s size and weight.

The table below shows that Nitrous Oxide is the best choice of oxidiser to use within amateur to
high-powered hybrid rocket motors.

3.4.1 Common hybrid rocket oxidisers

Boiling Point Critical Vapour Pressure Molecular


Oxidiser
(˚C) Temperature (˚C) @ 20 (˚C) Weight
Nitrous Oxide
-88.5 36.4 50.8 Bar 44
(N2O)
Liquid Oxygen
-183 -118 N/A 32
(LO2)
Nitrogen Trioxide
21.1 158 1 Bar 46
(N2O4)
Gaseous Oxygen
-183 -118.6 0.00152 Bar 32
(GOx)
Hydrogen
Peroxide (N2O2) 114 N/A 0.00345 Bar 34.0147
(50%)
Table 2: Comparison of Oxidiser Specific data (Source: SDS Sites)

3.4.2 Oxidiser handling & Storage

Material
Oxidiser Thermal Stability Handling Hazard Storability
Compatibility
Decomposition Good Good Al., stainless steel,
Nitrous Oxide
above 204˚C Teflon,
(N2O)
polyethylene
Good Good Cryogenic Al., stainless steel,
Liquid Oxygen
nickel alloys,
(LO2)
Teflon
Decomposition Very toxic, Good, should be Al., stainless steel,
Nitrogen
above 23˚C hazardous skin kept anhydrous nickel alloys,
Trioxide (N2O4)
contact Teflon
React violently Good Good Al., stainless steel,
Gaseous
with combustible nickel alloys,
Oxygen (GOx)
materials Teflon
Table 3: Comparison of Oxidiser handling & Storage (Source: SDS Sites)

11
3.5 Hybrid Rocket Fuel Grains
A fuel grain is a tube of combustible material positioned at the bottom of the motor between the
injector and the nozzle. It is designed with a hole down the middle called the fuel port. The fuel
port gives access for the refuel pipe and allows the combusted material to be thrust down the
fuel grain and out of the nozzle producing the motor’s thrust.

The fuel grain is mainly composed of a polymer, (most frequently being Polyethylene or
Acrylic), but can be made out of various other compounds.
3.5.1 Common hybrid rocket fuel grains

Density (kg /
Fuel Grain Thermal Conductivity (W m-1 K-1)
m3)
Polyethylene (Polyethene or PE) 960 0.23 – 0.29
Poly-Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA,
1683 0.2
Acrylic or Plexiglas)
Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC) 1380 0.16
Poly Propylene (PP) 950 0.1 – 0.22
Hydroxyl Terminated Poly-
930 0.217
Butadiene (HTPB)
Table 4: Comparison of hybrid fuel grains (Source: UK Rocket Man)

3.6 Hybrid Rocket Injection

3.6.1 Direct injection into the fuel port

The oxidiser is injected directly into the fuel port, where the inlet pipe is burnt away. The
oxidiser has to atomise from a liquid to a gas within a certain distance in the fuel port. This
means that some of the fuel grain will not be used, as the oxidiser only combusts when it has
converted to a gas warming up to its critical temperature.

3.6.2 Injection into a pre-combustion chamber

The oxidiser is injected into a separate chamber giving it time to atomise into a gas. This means
that more of the fuel grain will be used giving the motor a better thrust impulse. The pre-
combustion chamber takes up more space within the motor allowing less fuel to be stored. To
store more fuel the motor casing will have to be lengthened.

12
Main Manufactured Hybrid Rockets

RATT Works
Sky Ripper Systems
West Coast Hybrids

3.7 The Hybrid Rocket Motor used in the Investigation


Hybrid Rocket Type: Sky Ripper Systems 38/580mm – J144 Impulse

The sky ripper is a 38mm 580cc mono-tube hybrid Rocket motor classified with a J thrust
impulse being powered by a nitrous oxide (N2O) oxidiser and a reload fuel grain composed of
Poly Propylene.

Figure 6 - Sky Ripper 38mm Reload (Source: Sky Ripper Systems)

The motor is refuelled directly through the injector via a plastic fill tube. Here it is connected to
a compressor fitting with olive and nut to minimise leakage of stored gases.

Figure 7 - Motor setup and refuelling method (Source: Sky Ripper Systems)

In order to fire the motor a pyrotechnic (PIC) is tightly wrapped around the top of the fill tube
close to the injector and ignited using an electric igniter. The electric igniter sets alight
transferring its heat to the PIC where this in turn burns through the fill pipe. The N2O is injected
directly into the fuel grain’s fuel port warming up from the pyrotechnics burn to its critical
temperature (36.4C) and combusts with the surrounding fuel grain.

Major equipment ordered top to bottom:

Venting bulkhead
Oxidiser Tank (Nitrous Oxide)
Injector & Injector Body
Fuel Grain (Poly Propylene (PP))
Nozzle

13
4.0 Design & Development
As part of the investigation, different types of injector configurations were looked at, so that a
final design could be derived from their designs. This also focused on the projects aims so they
could be achieved.

“The project is to improve the atomisation of a hybrid rocket motor injector in order to
improve the specific impulse of the motor”
The aim is to focus at the atomisation distance of the oxidiser that flows through the injector. In
theory if the atomisation distance of the oxidiser is reduced, then the performance of the motor
should increase.

4.1 Injector Configurations

4.1.1 Original Design

Sky Ripper 38mm Hybrid Motor Injector Configuration

The original injector for the 38mm motor


Compressor Fitting
has a mono-tube configuration
comprising of an aluminium injector body
and brass compressor fitting that
accompanies an olive and nut to keep the
motor leak free.
Injector Body

The oxidiser flows out of the cylindrical


injector opening producing a long thin
Injector Opening spray; this directs the oxidiser over a
longer distance meaning that
the motor will be less fuel-efficient as the oxidiser takes a longer time to atomise.

Figure 8 - Top: Modelled Original injector configuration (Appendix: Plate A)


Figure 9 - Bottom: Visualisation of circular injector opening (Source: Aerocon)

14
4.1.2 Last Year’s Injector Configuration Designs

Last year’s investigation was based on similar aims as the current investigation, but the injector
configuration was designed for the 54mm Pentamax J type Hybrid Rocket Motor. The mono-
tube consists of a five-injector configuration where it is refuelled through the middle injector.

Figure 10 – Pentamax 54mm injector set-up (Source: Propulsion Polymers)

As the Pentamax’s injector has five injectors, there is a chance that not all of the plastic piping
will burn away during firing. Also with the injector having five compressor fittings, it makes the
motor preparation more complicated. The aim of the investigation was to simplify the injector
configuration as well as improve the performance of the motor. New injectors were needed to
show a good comparison of results.

There were two injector design types:

1st - The same stock configuration as the original, but the injectors were angled so the oxidiser
would have a wider spray pattern also having contact with separated flows as well as the walls
of the fuel grain changing the directional flow.

Figure 11 - Stock configurations with directed injectors (Source: Mark Sadler)

15
2nd – The final design using the same injector body/stock but with one removable injector
configuration so various injectors could be used with the same configuration. As the injector
opening had a different shape, refuelling could not take place so a separate refuelling hole was
allocated.

Figure 12 - Left: Stock Design, Middle: Manufactured Configuration, Right: Removable Injector

(Source: Mark Sadler)

4.1.3 Injector Configuration Development

At the beginning of the configuration development, the original injector was studied so that a
basic idea of the design could be developed upon. When looking at the previous year’s work, the
idea of a removable injector giving space for other variations was a good idea to allow further
testing of other injector configurations. The 54mm configuration has a separate refuelling pipe
meaning that it complicates the preparation of the motor set-up. It was also concluded that the
design had not been very successful.

Using the size of the 38mm motor there was not enough space for a separate refuelling system
to be included in the configuration. This meant that the focus of the design stayed with a mono-
tube configuration where the injector acted as the refuelling port as well.

16
Development of each part
Injector Body

Staying with the original dimensions so that the injector configuration fits within the motor
casing and does not use up any more space than is needed. The body has to be checked to see if
it has the same diameter or it would not have a snug fit within the motor. The cavity that the
compressor fitting is assembled into has been created from the underside of the injector body
instead of the topside. (Appendix: Plate B)

Compression Fitting

The compression fitting from the original injector configuration was difficult to reproduce as its
threads were manufactured imperially to NP (National Pipeline) thread which is not readily
available. To make the manufacture and duplication of the final product easier, the compression
fitting was re-dimensioned to a ¼ to ¼ gas thread fitting. The new selection of fitting is easy to
get hold of. It has a lower price because it does not have a customised thread.

Figure 13 - Equal straight coupling,1/4 x 1/4in comp (source: RS Components Ltd)

Injector Configuration

The aim of the new design is to have a removable injector configuration so that other variations
can be used. The thinner injector screws in to the topside of the injector body also through the
centre of the compressor fitting as the refuelling inlet pipe fits over the injector. The oxidiser
flows up the inlet pipe and through the injector. When it is time to fire the motor, the pipe is
burnt away and the oxidiser will flow through the injector. (Appendix: Plate C)

17
4.2 Final Injector Configuration Assembly

Injector body:

The same external dimensions as original configuration with


cavity on underside of body

Compression Fitting:

¼ to ¼ gas thread with olive and compressor nut

Injector Configuration:

Slim line injector with a four-hole configuration, each hole


angled at 45° to direct the oxidiser upwards shortening the
atomisation distance

Injector Body

¼ to ¼ gas Compressor Fitting

Injector Configuration

0.5mm
spacing
around
6mm Outer / 5mm Inner
injector for
diameter Inlet pipe
refuelling

Oxidiser Flow

Figure 14 - New Injector Configuration assembled parts and oxidiser direction while refuelling
cross section views

18
5.0 Testing
During the investigation, the newly manufactured Injector configuration was put through a series of
tests in order to show that the injector was made to the correct specifications and that it would
present results that followed the investigation aim. The tests included are:

Flow Visualisations

Low Pressure Water Test

High Pressure Water & Oxidiser Test

Oxidiser characteristics within a motor setup

Motor Firing

Fuel grain Regression

Thrust Curve Data

5.1 Flow Visualisations


5.1.1 Low Pressure Water Test @ 50psi
The injector was tested at a low pressure of 50psi using water so that it was clear to see
whether the configuration had been manufactured correctly. The visualisation was also able to
show what would happen to the fluid spray as it was directed out of the four-hole configuration.

As shown in the pictures, it can be seen that the injector worked correctly as specified in the
design and development process. The results from the low-pressure test were not accurate
enough to collect the correct data. The injector directs the water as specified, but as water is
more viscous at lower pressures the direction of the fluid cannot be shown.

Figure 15 - Left: Front view of injector with water at 50psi

Right: Side view of inaccurate injector directional flow

19
5.1.2 High Pressure Water & Oxidiser Test

As part of the High pressure test there was originally going to be a water test at 700psi, where it
would be contained within a designed and manufactured pressure vessel. The water would be
pumped through the injector that would be screwed into the wall of the cylinder. This device
was to produce an accurate visualisation of a high-pressured fluid through the injector. Due to
the department’s health and safety regulations, the pressure vessel was failed and the testing
was not allowed to go ahead. (Appendix: Plates D and E)
A high-pressure oxidiser test was setup to replace the water experiment. The oxidiser used was
nitrous oxide (N2O) the same as used in the 38mm hybrid motor and stored at 750psi. The test
consisted of separately connecting the original injector and new injector configurations directly
to the N2O fill pipe, so that a comparison could be made between the two. The testing aimed to
show the differences that both injectors had against each other, also focusing on any change in
atomisation distance. The diodes on the N2O cylinder were opened for short bursts at a time, as
this was enough time to collect plenty of visual results for comparison.

Original Injector Configuration

As shown in the figure below, the oxidiser is cylindrical in shape as it passes through the
circular injector opening. The atomisation distance of the oxidiser is of a lengthy distance. The
atomisation distance is important because the area between the gases converting from a liquid
to a gas is the area of the fuel grain that is not being used.

Figure 16 - Original Injector Configuration with N2O visualisation

If the atomisation distance of the oxidiser is lengthy it means that less fuel will be used, in turn
making the motor less fuel- efficient

20
New Injector Configuration

For the second test, the new injector configuration was assembled to the Nitrous Oxide cylinder.
The visualisations that were produced showed that the new injector made a big difference
between the two injectors. The testing shows that the new configuration altered the flow of the
oxidiser, also directing the flow backwards, proving the theory of the designs.

Figure 17 - Left: Front view of Oxidiser sprayed evenly through the four holes in the
configuration Right: Side view of Injector configuration, showing backwards spray.

Both of the injectors were tested visually with nitrous oxide. This showed accurate results into
how the oxidiser flow had changed due to the difference in injector configuration. Although a
good flow visualisation was recorded, it was not evident whether a comparison could be made
to the atmosphere testing as to what the oxidiser did within the fuel grain of the motor.

5.1.3 Oxidiser characteristics within a Hybrid motor setup


Following the query from the previous testing, two motor configurations were assembled with a
Poly-Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA/Acrylic) fuel grain (Table: 4). The PMMA fuel grain was used
in order to view what happened to the oxidiser when it flowed within the motor.

Original Injector Configuration PMMA Motor Setup


As shown in figure 19 the oxidiser follows on a similar path as the previous experiment show in
figure 17. The gas is more confined, creating vortices that deflect at obtuse angles off the inner
fuel grain wall.

Figure 18 - Original injector configuration within PMMA fuel grain motor setup showing atomisation
distance

21
New Injector Configuration PMMA Motor Setup
When using the new configuration within the motor setup (Figure 5), the oxidiser aims out
sideways and backwards nearer the top end of the fuel grain. Due to the holes in the side of the
injector the flow impacts at acute angles against the fuel grain wall giving the oxidiser a lesser
distance to atomise.

Figure 19 - New injector configuration within PMMA fuel grain motor set-up showing atomisation
distance

Both of these tests are good ways of demonstrating what happens within the motor when the
oxidiser is released. However, it is unable to show the exact atomisation distance because when
the oxidiser combusts, more of the surrounding gases will be burnt, reducing the distances as
shown in figures 18 and 19

22
5.2 Motor Firing

The firing of the motor is a big part of this investigation. This is where results for the thrust
produced and the fuel used were created and subsequently recorded. Finding out what the fuel
grain regressions were can give an answer to how fuel-efficient the motor is. The thrust data
calculations give an overall thrust impulse for the motor.

Figure 20 - Firing of Sky Ripper Systems 38mm Hybrid Rocket motor fixed in test stand

5.2.1 Fuel Grain Regression

The fuel grain regression is the rate at which the fuel is burnt during the firing of the motor.
After the grains were used, they were weighed to see if any extra fuel had been consumed,
cross-sectioned to see how the grain had burnt and wall thicknesses measured to see if there
were any differences between the new results and the control.

5.2.2 Thrust Curve Data

The thrust curve is produced when the motor is fired. The motor pushes upward on a fixed load
cell (Source: Load Cell) that measures the stresses and strains from the motor compressing the
device. The thrust curve is measured in Thrust (Newton’s) to Seconds, the load cell measures
the force in mille Volts (mV) that can be converted into Newton’s. Another result that can be
found from the thrust curve is the overall specific impulse of the motor. This is the area beneath
the curve that is split up into a classification as earlier explained in the report.

23
5.2.3 Apparatus for the experiment

Testing Equipment

Computer + Pico Recorder Software

Signal Amplifier

Load Cell

Cable connectors

PCO Data Logger

Power Leads

GSE (Ground Support Equipment)

Battery

Signal Extension Lead

Electrical Extension Lead

Test Rig

38mm Collar

N2O Cylinder

Power Supply

Honda 4 stroke – Electrical Generator

Unleaded Fuel

Motor

Hybrid Rocket Motor – 38mm / 580 cc J 144 PP

Electrical Tape

PIC

Electrical Starters

Inlet Pipe

Krytox Lubricant

O – Rings

Circlips

Other hand Tools

24
5.2.4 Preparation of the Motor

The majority of Hybrid Rocket motors are prepared in the same way, but they may have
different set-up equipment and procedures. The motor preparation steps can be found in
(Appendix: Plate F)

5.2.5 Test Procedure

The equipment was set up with the motor ready and prepared as specified in (Appendix: Plate
F).
The motor was placed in the test rig with a 38mm collar held in place on order to avoid any
axial movement.
The top of the motor was pushed firmly up against the Load cell as there would not be
anything conflicting data from the primary and continuous force of thrust.
The load cell’s wires were connected to the signal amplifier where it was then connected to the
computer so that results where recorded on to the Pico System software.
The GSE was connected to the motor and the gas cylinder diodes to allow firing of the motor at
a safe distance.
The fill switch was switch to open and nitrous oxide flowed into the oxidiser tank of the motor.
The tank fills up, to prove that it is full when the venting bulkhead starts venting a white plume
of N2O gas.
The fill pipe switched off/close
The igniter key was turned to fire and fire button pressed
Due to the thrust produced the motor propels in an upward direction where the load cell
measures the force produced
An electrical current flows through the load cell where data is recorded in mille Volts (mV) and
transferred on to the system software on the computer.
The data produced is a thrust curve: Y axis (mV) / X axis (Seconds)
From the thrust curve produced the performance of the motor can be shown and the total
impulse of the motor can be calculated.

25
6.0 Analysis of Results & Discussion
Two comparative sets of results were produced for this investigation. The first set was
produced from firing the motor using the old injector configuration and the second set was
produced using the new injector configuration. Two sets of results were needed in order to
identify if there had been an improvement in fuel efficiency.

6.1 Fuel Grain Regression


When the motor is fired the oxidiser combusts with the surrounding fuel grain producing thrust.
For the combustion process to finish the oxidiser is depleted and a substantial amount of
material from the grain has been burnt away. The volume of material that has been used during
the firing, within the fuel grain, shows the level of regression.

After testing both fuel grains an observational analysis was carried out on them in order to
identify:

The distances of atomisation within the fuel grain


The distribution patterns of the oxidiser against the fuel grain during combustion
Any other characteristics during the firing that improved the performance and impulse of the
motor
6.1.1 Original Configuration Fuel Grain
In the figure below the fuel grain shows a basic fuel burn profile, this has used the standard
injector configuration during the firing. From a cross-sectioned view it is able to see where the
fuel has been used and it is also able to show the characteristics of the oxidisers atomisation
distance with the shown distances.

The observations of the fuel grain show that there are thicker walls towards the top end of the
grain. This is due to the distance at which the oxidiser takes to atomise from a liquid to a gas, as
this distances of fuel grain is not used meaning it is less fuel-efficient. When magnifying the area
of regression the grain shows that it has burnt unevenly, affecting the fuel usage and
performance of the motor.

Figure 21 – Cross-section view of original injector PP fuel grain

26
6.1.2 New Configuration Fuel Grain

The new configuration has different characteristics to the original fuel grain. The grain showed
in figure 21.The walls are thicker at the top of the fuel port, where they gradually get thinner
sloping towards the nozzle end.

In figure 22 the only area where the grain is thicker is of a much shorter distance, supporting
the aim of shortening the atomisation distance of the oxidiser. As the flow of the oxidiser is
directed out towards the sides (figure 17) the observations have shown that the oxidiser has
become more turbulent within the fuel grain atomising faster.

Due to the four-hole set-up of the new injector configuration, there has been an even
distribution of gases spread around the surface of the inner fuel grain wall. The burn of the fuel
has been even and more controlled as previous, this is shown in figure 22, where the walls have
burnt together at a steady speed. The walls have the same thickness is around the
circumference of the cylinder.

Figure 22 - Cross Section view of the new injector PP fuel grain

As in the majority of all fuel grains the top area of the fuel grain usually stays thicker then tapers
off towards the nozzles end as more fuel is used. At the top of the new injector fuel grain there
has been a bigger usage of material; this is very unusual for the characteristics of a fuel grain.
The injector was designed to shorten the distance of the atomisation. The four-hole
configuration aims the oxidiser out sideways and upward towards the injector body. The theory
can be proven as the top end of the fuel grain has been affected more than in any other
experiment.

With the atomisation distance reduced and oxidiser evenly distributed over the surface of the
fuel grain, more fuel has been used in turn giving the motor a bigger achieved thrust.

27
6.1.3 Comparison of tested fuel grains

Comparison of more fuel efficient fuel grains using current and new configurations

Control Original New Fuel usage increase

77.88g 46.26g 41.48g 4.78g

6.2 Hybrid Rocket Thrust Curve

The data produced by the motor was recorded and plotted into a graph showing a curve in
Thrust (Newton’s) to seconds. The given data shows the performance of the motor, giving a
maximum initial thrust and the specific characteristics from each motor when fired.

There are two main results that can be read from the graphs:

Maximum Thrust produced


Total Thrust impulse
During the testing, only one firing took place meaning only one set of results was recorded. This
means that no averages could be taken to get an overall finite result. A comparison between the
original and new injector was not able to go ahead, but results from an originally tested class
motor were acquired so a basic comparison could take place.

6.2.1 Original Configuration Thrust Curve


The results shown have been produced from the Sky Ripper Systems website, as testing was
only produced from the new injector. The thrust curve is produced from the same 38mm sky
ripper motor with its original injector and fuel grain used in the investigation.

Figure 23 – Sky Ripper 38mm J144PP motor Thrust Curve with Original Injector configuration

28
The thrust curve in figure 23 shows that the initial thrust impulse was 120 pounds (533N), the
power of the motor gradually tapered off staying at an average between 266 N and 177 N before
depleting of all its gases. The overall burn took around four and a half seconds and the total
impulse that is the area underneath the curve was 698.63 N.s, this shows what class it is
classified to (‘J’ = 640 – 1280 N.s)

6.2.2 New Configuration Thrust Curve


The new injector thrust curve shows a big difference as both the motors were tested in separate
environments and set in different conditions. Even though there will be a difference in results
because of their conditions, a change in the motor’s performance will still be able to be seen.

The results given by the new injector show that the initial total impulse is half the original
injector at 250 N, but instead of tapering off quite dramatically the thrust stays at an average
higher level between 200 and 160 Newton’s for a great allotted time. The time the motor takes
to complete firing has a similar time as the original showing that the rate of flow of the oxidiser
through the fuel grain is about the same.

As previously explained in section 6.1.2, the distribution of the oxidiser within the fuel grain is
even, meaning that the burn of the surfaces have less variation in turn improving the
performance of the motor. The calculated total specific impulse of the motor is 786.64 N.s, this is
a 12.5% increase in performance.

Figure 24 - Sky Ripper 38mm J144PP motor Thrust Curve with New Injector configuration

29
6.2.3 Limitations

Throughout the project a number of areas were held meaning that they delayed the progress of
the work. Some of the limitations were:

Time
Health and Safety
Equipment and Resource availability
Other people
Weather conditions

As part of a study there are always limitations to the work set, whether it is time or just relying
on other people to get an objective completed. As these were found within this investigation a
number of set backs took place. If there were not any limitations to the project at hand, a further
development into the injector configurations would be able to show a greater accuracy of
results and detailed analysis of the work set.

6.2.4 Further Work


As part of the investigation into injector configurations there has only been a brief study into the
comparison of the original injector performances to a newly designed injector configuration. It
would be an advantage if there were to be a further study into different injectors, so that better
in-sight could be achieved with the manufactured body and compressor fitting. In turn, more
ways to improve the performance of the 38mm hybrid motor could be found.

7.0 Conclusion
There will always be a constant investigation into injector configurations producing a better fuel
efficiency and thrust impulse. This would benefit customers, hobbyists or organisations in
getting better performance out of their motors

“The project is to improve the atomisation of a hybrid rocket motor injector in order to improve
the specific impulse of the motor” project aim

Following the investigations aim I believe that I have fulfilled what the original aims. Producing
an understanding of:

Hybrid rocket motors and their injector configuration


Developing and designing a new injector configuration to be manufactured and tested
within the given 38mm Hybrid Rocket motor

30
Producing tested results in order to solve the problem set at the beginning of the
investigation
The problem was to design an injector configuration in order to improve the specific impulse of
the motor as well as increasing the motor’s fuel efficiency. I have demonstrated this in the
investigation and would prefer to build on established facts and develop the study further.

8.0 References & Bibliography

8.1 References

University of Hertfordshire, 2008. http://rockets.feis.herts.ac.uk/motors.htm , 2007, 7/04/2008

Estes Rockets, 2008. http://www.estesrockets.com, 2008, 25/04/2008

Aerotech Rocketry, 2006. http://www.aerotech-rocketry.com, 2008, 25/04/2008

Safety data Sheet (SDS) Sites

SOXAL, 2008. http://www.sg.airliquide.com, 2008, 25/04/2008

Matheson Tri Gas, 2008. http://www.mathesontrigas.com, 2008, 25/04/2008

Growth Technology, 2008. http://www.growthtechnology.com/index.asp, 2008, 25/04/08

Rocket Propellants, 2008. http://www.braeunig.us/space/propel.htm , 2008, 25/04/2008

UK Rocket Man, 2008. http://www.ukrocketman.com/rocketry/hybridscience.shtml, 2008, 25/04/2008

Sky Ripper Systems, 2008. http://www.skyrippersystems.com/, 2008, 25/04/2008

Aerocon, 2007. http://www.aeroconsystems.com/motors/rattworks.htm , 2008, 25/04/2008

Propulsion Polymers, 12/09/2003. http://www.flyhybrids.net/pp/propulsion_polymers.htm, 2008, 25/04/2008

RS Components Ltd, 2008. http://uk.rs-online.com, 2008, 25/04/2008

Load Cell, 2008.

31
8.2 Bibliography

Zakirov V, Sweeting M, “ Surrey Research on Nitrous Oxide Catalytic decomposition for Space
Applications”, Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey,

Zakirov V, “Nitrous Oxide as a Rocket Propellant”, Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey,
2001

Sadler, M “The investigation into the effects of injector configurations performance of a Hybrid Rocket
Motor”, http://rockets.feis.herts.ac.uk/Mark_Sadler_report.pdf, University of Hertfordshire 2007,
25/04/2008

Askeland D. R, Phulé P. P, “ The Science and Engineering of Materials”, Fifth Edition, 2006

Sutton G. P, Biblarz O, “Rocket Propulsion Elements”, Seventh Edition, 2001

Sleeter D, “Ameteur Rocket Motor Construction”, 2004

9.0 Appendixes
Plate A – Original Injector Body Dimensions

Plate B – New Injector Body

Plate C – Injector Configuration Dimensions

Plate D – Pressure Vessel Lid

Plate E – Pressure Vessel Body

Plate F – Operating and safety procedure for hybrid and solid rocket
motors

Plate G – Nitrous Oxide Safety Data Sheet

32