Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Additively manufactured rocket engine features an aerospike nozzle for microlaunchers

12.02.2020

Microlaunchers are an alternative to conventional launch vehicles. Able to carry payloads of up to 350 kilograms, these midsized transport systems are designed to launch small satellites into space. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden and TU Dresden’s aerospace experts developed an additively manufactured rocket engine with an aerospike nozzle for microlaunchers. The scaled metal prototype is expected to consume 30 percent less fuel than conventional engines. It will feature prominently at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 12 and in the showcase at booth C18 in hall 16 at the Hannover Messe from April 20 through 24, 2020.

The market for small satellites is sure to boom in the years ahead. The United Kingdom aims to build a spaceport in the north of Scotland, the first on European soil. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) has also endorsed the idea of a national space-port.


A design demonstrator for an additively manufactured aerospike nozzle.

© Fraunhofer IWS Dresden


This prototype of the aerospike engine has already been tested by the Dresden researchers on the test stand of the Institute of Aerospace Engineering of TU Dresden.

© Fraunhofer IWS Dresden

It is to serve as the pad for small-to-midsized launchers that haul research instruments and small satellites into space. These microlaunchers are engineered to carry a payload of up to 350 kilograms. Aerospike engines are an efficient means of powering these microlaunchers. They offer the welcome prospects of far less mass and far lower fuel consumption.

A research team from Fraunhofer IWS and TU Dresden's Institute of Aerospace Engineering developed, manufactured and tested an aerospike engine over the past two years. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded the project.

What sets this aerospike engine apart from others is that its fuel injector, combustion chamber and nozzle are printed layer by layer in an additive manufacturing process called laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF). The nozzle consists of a spike-like center-body designed to accelerate combustion gases.

“The technology behind aerospike engines dates back to the 1960s. But our ability to produce engines as efficient as this is owed to the freedom brought by additive manu-facturing and its embedding in conventional process chains,” says Michael Müller, scientific assistant at the Additive Manufacturing Center Dresden (AMCD), which is jointly operated by Fraunhofer IWS and TU Dresden. Aerospike rocket engines promise fuel savings of around 30 percent over conventional rockets.

They are also more com-pact than conventional systems, which reduces the overall system’s mass. “Every gram saved is worth its weight in gold in space flight because less fuel has to be taken into orbit. The heavier the overall system, the lighter its payload has to be,” says Mirko Riede, group manager 3D manufacturing at Fraunhofer IWS and colleague of Michael Müller.

The aerospike nozzle developed by Fraunhofer IWS and TU Dresden better adapts to the changing pressure on the trip from Earth to orbit. This makes it more efficient, so it burns less fuel than conventional engines.

An additively manufactured nozzle with conformal cooling

“We opted for an additive way of manufacturing the metal rocket because the engine requires very good cooling and needs internal cooling channels. This complex regenerative cooling system with labyrinthine internal ducts cannot be milled or cast in conventional ways,” says Riede. Applied layer by layer, the powder is then melted.

This selective laser melting gradually builds a component with one-millimeter-wide cooling channels that follow the combustion chamber’s contours. Residual powder in the channels is then vacuumed out. This metal has to hold up to rigorous demands, remaining solid at high temperatures and conducting heat well to ensure optimum cooling. “Temperatures of several thousand degrees Celsius prevail in the combustion chamber, so this does require active cooling,” says Müller.

Scientists at Fraunhofer IWS and TU Dresden are looking to the injection system in a bid to further boost engine efficiency. Called CFDμSAT, this project has been underway since January 2020 with the Ariane Group and Siemens AG taking part as associated partners. Injectors pose major design and manufacturing challenges. “Fuels first serve to cool the engine.

They heat up and are then induced into the combustion chamber. Liquid oxygen and ethanol are added separately to be blended via an injector. The resulting gas mixture is ignited. It expands in the combustion chamber and then flows through a gap in the combustion chamber to be decompressed and accelerated by the nozzle,” notes Müller, explaining how this engine produces thrust.

Engine hot-fire test

The Dresden-based researchers have already tested the prototype of the aerospike engine in a test cell at TU Dresden’s Institute of Aerospace Engineering, achieving a burn time of 30 seconds. “This process is special because there have been scant few precedents for aerospike nozzles tests. We have proven that a working liquid- propellant jet engine can be produced by way of additive manufacturing,” says Müller.

This project is one example of the close collaboration between the TU Dresden and non-university research institutes within a science cluster called the DRESDEN-concept. TU Dresden is responsible for the engine’s design and layout; Fraunhofer IWS for the manufacturing and material validation. Their first step was to adapt the design to the additive manufacturing process.

The researchers then selected and characterized the material. Next, they produced the engine’s two components with the L-PBF method and reworked their functional surfaces. The components were joined by laser welding and a computed tomography scanner inspected for pores and other defects. This non-destructive evaluation can also determine if sintered powder is obstructing the cooling channels.

This project demonstrates how AM processes can be integrated into today’s process chains in a productive way across all industries to advance the state of the art in manufacturing.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Mirko Riede
Group Leader 3D-Manufacturing
Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
mirko.riede@iws.fraunhofer.de
Phone +49 351 83391-3188
Winterbergstraße 28, 01277 Dresden

www.iws.fraunhofer.de

Originalpublikation:

https://www.iws.fraunhofer.de/en/pressandmedia/press_releases/2020/presseinforma...

Markus Forytta | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS

More articles from Machine Engineering:

nachricht Photonics meets textile engineering: faster CFRP component manufacturing with an ultrashort pulsed laser and robot
30.01.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Causes and consequences of manufacturing deviations
10.01.2020 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Machine Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

Im Focus: Quantum fluctuations sustain the record superconductor

Superconductivity approaching room temperature may be possible in hydrogen-rich compounds at much lower pressures than previously expected

Reaching room-temperature superconductivity is one of the biggest dreams in physics. Its discovery would bring a technological revolution by providing...

Im Focus: New coronavirus module in SORMAS

HZI-developed app for disease control is expanded to stop the spread of the pathogen

At the end of December 2019, the first cases of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus were reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since then, infections...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electric solid propellant -- can it take the heat?

14.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Pitt study uncovers new electronic state of matter

14.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers observe quantum interferences in real-time using a new extreme ultra-violet light spectroscopy technique

14.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>