Characterizing High-Energy-Density Propellants for Space Propulsion Apllications
Kokan, Timothy Salim
Olds, John R.
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A technique for determining the thermophysical properties of high-energy-density matter (HEDM) propellants is presented. HEDM compounds are of interest in the liquid rocket engine industry due to their high density and high energy content relative to existing industry standard propellants (liquid hydrogen, kerosene, and hydrazine). In order to model rocket engine performance, cost, and weight in a conceptual design environment, several thermodynamic and physical properties are needed. These properties include enthalpy, entropy, density, viscosity, and thermal conductivity. These properties need to be known over a wide range of temperature and pressure. A technique using a combination of quantum mechanics and molecular dynamics is used to determine these properties for quadricyclane, a HEDM compound of interest. Good agreement is shown with experimentally measured thermophysical properties. A vehicle case study is provided to quantify the system level benefits of using quadricyclane instead of hydrazine for the lunar lander ascent stage of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study. The results show that the use of HEDM propellants can significantly reduce the lunar lander mass and indicate that HEDM propellants are an attractive technology to pursue for future lunar missions.