An experimental investigation of the cooling channel geometry effects on the internal forced convection of liquid methane
Rocket engine fuel alternatives have been an area of discussion for use in high performance engines and deep spaceflight missions. In particular, LCH4 has showed promise as an alternative option in regeneratively cooled rocket engines due to its non-toxic nature, similar storage temperatures to liquid oxygen, and its potential as an in situ resource. However, data pertaining to the heat transfer characteristics of LCH4 is limited. For this reason, a High Heat Transfer Test Facility (HHTTF) at the University of Texas at El Paso's (UTEP) Center for Space Exploration Technology and Research has been developed for the purpose of flowing LCH4 through several heated tube geometry designs subjected to a constant heat flux. In addition, a Methane Condensing Unit (MCU) is integrated to the system setup to supply LCH4 to the test facility. Through the use of temperature and pressure measurements, this experiment will serve not only to study the heat transfer characteristics of LCH4; it serves as a method of simulating the cooling channels of a regeneratively cooled rocket engine at a subscale level. The cross sections for the cooling channels investigated are a 1.8 mm x 1.8 mm square channel, 1.8 mm x 4.1 mm rectangular channel, 3.2 mm and 6.34 mm inside diameter channel, and a 1.8 mm x 14.2 mm high aspect ratio cooling channel (HARCC). The test facility is currently designed for test pressures between 1.03 MPa to 2.06 MPa and heat fluxes up to 5 MW/m2. Results show that at the given test pressures, the Reynolds number reaches up to 140,000 for smaller cooling channels (3.2 mm diameter tube and 1.8 mm x 4.1 mm rectangle) while larger cooling channel geometries (6.35 mm diameter and HARCC) reached Reynolds number around 70,000. Nusselt numbers reached as high as 320 and 265 for a 3.2 mm diameter tube and 1.8 mm x 4.1 mm rectangular channel respectively. For cooling channel geometries with 6.35 mm diameter and HARCC geometry, Nusselt numbers reached 136 (excluding an outlier) and 106 respectively. Heat transfer predictions applied to the data yielded theoretical correlations within 40% of the experimental data. However, typical theoretical values fall within 10%-15% of the experimental values showing agreeable correlations and supporting theories stated in the present study.
Engineering|Aerospace engineering|Mechanical engineering
Trejo, Adrian, "An experimental investigation of the cooling channel geometry effects on the internal forced convection of liquid methane" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3623475.