University of Cambridge > > Engineering Department Acoustics/Combustion Student seminars > Aerothermodynamic Layout of a Scramjet Propulsion System for Space Transportation Systems: The Research Group GRK1095/1 - Structure and Achievements

Aerothermodynamic Layout of a Scramjet Propulsion System for Space Transportation Systems: The Research Group GRK1095/1 - Structure and Achievements

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Carlo Quaglia.

Today’s propulsion systems rely on propellers, turbofans or turbojets for planes and on rocket propulsion for space transportation systems. The problem with the latter is the need to carry the oxidizer on board, which significantly decreases payload fractions. Alternatively, it is possible to design a space transportation system using an air-breathing plane-type first stage and a rocket-type second stage but this would require the first stage to achieve sufficiently high Mach numbers (approx. 8-15). Unfortunately, turbojet engines become inefficient at Mach numbers higher than approximately three. One possibility is to switch to ramjet engines at these speeds. In ramjet engines, compression is provided by compression ramps at the intake of the engine and the air is decelerated to subsonic speeds. This eliminates the need for rotating machinery. Combustion then takes place under subsonic conditions inside the engine. For Mach numbers higher than approximately five, ramjet engines become inefficient, however, since the stagnation pressure losses associated with a deceleration to subsonic speeds are large and static temperatures become prohibitively high. To eliminate this problem, the flow can be maintained at supersonic speeds. Such an engine is called a supersonic combustion ramjet or scramjet. Even though research on these types of engines has been going on for several decades, the technical problems associated with designing an operable system remain tremendous. Problems include high static temperature, obtaining positive thrust, flight control, maintaining a stable combustion, material fatigue and others. Nevertheless, such engines have great potential for significantly reducing costs for space access, reduce travel times between distant locations and have a large range of military applications. The project GRK1095 /1 is a national civilian research effort that aims at designing a scramjet powered space transportation system. The program is distributed among three German universities and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). In addition, there are associated members in several European countries. This talk discusses the project GRK1095 /1 and will highlight its structure and achievements since its start in the year 2004. In addition, more general problems of scramjet engine design will be outlined.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Acoustics/Combustion Student seminars series.

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