Hybrid rockets are being studied as a potential replacement for the solid rocket boosters on the NASA space shuttle. One physical characteristic of hybrid rockets that must be understood and overcome is potentially severe pressure oscillations during combustion. Pressure oscillations inside the rocket combustion chamber lead to oscillations in the thrust of the rocket. These oscillations are damaging to potential human passengers and cargo and must be minimized. Current theories surmise that the oscillations are caused by combustion chamber geometry, oxygen feed line parameters, and/or fuel combustion characteristics. This study focuses on the role of the fuel characteristics in pressure and thrust oscillations. The standard hybrid rocket fuel is hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB). A fuel additive, guanidinium azo-tetrazolate (GAT), has been shown to increase thrust and impulse of the rocket when added as 15% by mass to the fuel. This study compares the amplitude of the pressure and thrust oscillations of the rocket when burning HTPB fuels and when burning GAT-added fuels. Data from several firings at oxygen flow rates from 0.018 kg/sec to 0.054 kg/sec are analyzed. Results show the GAT-added fuel combustion shows no significant increase or decrease in the amplitude of the pressure and thrust oscillations.
Wright, Ann; Dunn, Lawrence; Alford, Brian; Patton, Justin; and Hudson, M. Keith
"Study of the Amplitude of Pressure and Thrust Oscillations in a Lab-Scale Hybrid Rocket,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 54
, Article 24.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol54/iss1/24