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IWPT10-2 Development of Microwave Rocket as a Space Mass Transportation System

Reiji KOMATSU, Masafumi FUKUNARI, Toshikazu YAMAGUCHI, Kimiya KOMURASAKI, Yoshihiro ARAKAWA (The University of Tokyo), Yasuhisa ODA, Keishi SAKAMOTO (Japan Atomic Energy Agency), Ikko FUNAKI (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Hiroshi KATSURAYAMA (Yamaguchi University)
Abstract An air-breathing pulse-detonation engine powered by microwave energy beaming, Microwave Rocket is considered as a future mass transportation system to space. A key to realize Microwave Rocket is to achieve high air-breathing performance. We are now developing the system using side-wall reed valves which is expected to minimize ventilation period. A test chamber equipped with a reed valve was fabricated and the ventilated volume flow rate was measured. CFD was also conducted. As a result, it came out that pressure oscillation frequency inside the thruster was approximately in inverse proportion to the thruster length. It was also found that there is minimum thruster aspect ratio where complete ventilation can be accomplished. Index Terms Microwave Rocket, Microwave Energy Beaming, Space Transportation, Gyrotron. Fig. 1. Conceptual diagram of the Beaming Propulsion

I. INTRODUCTION In order to construct huge space infrastructures, like Space Solar Power System (SSPS), transportation cost will be very expensive if conventional chemical rockets are used. This is because chemical rockets need huge amount of propellant to be loaded and expensive equipment like turbo pump are expended. Therefore alternative low cost space transportation systems should be applied for transportation of these infrastructures. One of the prospective solutions is realizing beaming propulsion. In the beaming propulsion, the energy necessary for the launch is supplied from the ground by laser or microwave beaming. The conceptual diagram of beaming propulsion is shown in Fig. 1. Microwave Rocket is one types of the beaming propulsion systems. This rocket is initially proposed by Shad et al [1]. This rocket can use the atmospheric air as a propellant during the flight in dense atmosphere. Thrust is generated by exhaust process of the compressed air by microwave detonation. Microwave detonation is a process in which a shockwave and an ionization wave front propagate together. The cycle is often discussed with analogy to that of Pulse Detonation Engine (PDE) [2]. This process begins with breakdown in the air by focusing a high power microwave beam generated by a gyrotron on the ground. After the exhaust process, Microwave Rocket refills the detonation tube with air and prepares for the next cycle which begins with the next pulsed microwave. II. ADVANTAGE OF THE MICROWAVE ROCKET Microwave Rocket can contribute to constructing huge infrastructures in terms of following three points. Firstly, specific impulse Isp of Microwave Rocket can be much larger than that of conventional rockets by applying airbreathing engine cycle. Because maximum Isp of conventional chemical rockets is low, a large amount of onboard propellant is required to reach the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), resulting in quite low payload ratio. If atmospheric air can be used as a propellant, high Isp and high payload ratio will be achievable. Secondly, it is not necessary to load complex and expensive systems like turbo pump on Microwave Rocket. This rocket can generate thrust by using simple and cheap modules such as detonation tube, mirrors and reed valves. Finally, allowable level of security for Microwave Rocket is lower than that of the other transportation systems by specializing in massive material transportation as a massdriver. In order to transport people, levels of security and reliability must be quite high because of need for redundancy, acceleration limit, and no accident. It is not effective to transport materials by the vehicles which are assumed to transport people. However in a mass-driver case, since the cost of rocket itself and importance of payload per one launch are lower than former case, it gets possible to make trade-off between cost and reliability.

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Pmax

D L
payload

Fig. 2. Schematic of the Microwave rocket with reed valves

III. DEVELOPMENT OF THE MICROWAVE ROCKET There are two modes of propulsion system, air-breathing mode and rocket mode. In the rocket mode, Microwave Rocket utilizes propellant such as Argon from the onboard tank to generate the thrust at an altitude higher than roughly 60 km. However most of the flight is accomplished by airbreathing mode. In this mode, air intake is realized by reed valves. Reed valves are normally used as intake of two-stroke engine [3]. Fig. 2 shows schematic of the Microwave Rocket with airbreathing system by reed valves. It is possible to generate thrust even in the thin air at a high-altitude up to about 60km by applying this air-breathing system. This is because air can be compressed by the slot between thruster body and cowl when the reeds are closed. The rocket flies at the higheraltitude, more strongly the air is compressed since flight Mach number is tremendous there. Shiraishi et al. showed that it is necessary to ventilate almost whole thruster even in the low-altitude. This is because thrust will decrease because of high temperature gas which is still remained in the thruster if the air intake is insufficient [4]. So it is essential to develop high performance air-breathing system for these two reasons. IV. CFD CALCULATION In order to develop high performance air-breathing system, the reed valves must rapidly move against pressure oscillation inside the thruster. It is useful to get the frequency of the pressure oscillation in the thruster in advance because the natural frequency of reeds must be much larger than pressure oscillation frequency inside. Moreover, relationship between pressure oscillation frequency fp and thruster length L is also important because small fp means more ventilation time tv. Therefore one dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) was conducted to simulate the pressure oscillation inside the thruster tube with no reed. Governing Equation is one dimensional Euler equation. The effect of viscosity and thermal condition is neglected because attenuation of the oscillation is not important for developing air-breathing syste-

Fig. 3. Result of the pressure oscillation by CFD calculation and experiment data for L = 500 mm obtained by Oda et al [5].

m. AUSM-DV scheme is applied for the solver. As the initial parameter, pressure inside the thruster Pii = 1.5 atm, outside the thruster Pio = 1.0 atm, temperature inside the thruster Tii = 600 K, and outside the thruster Tio = 298 K are chosen from typical condition of the rocket. Fig. 3 shows the comparison between result of the pressure oscillation by CFD and typical experiment data at the thrust wall (at the top of the thruster inside) for L = 500 mm obtained by Oda et al. [5]. It can be said that the oscillation can be well described by CFD calculation. The maximum negative pressure which is the pressure difference between inside and outside Pmax = 0.65 bar is also expressed by calculation. V. EXPERIMENT A. Measurement of Natural Frequency of a Reed Natural frequency of a reed should be much larger than that of pressure oscillation. By modeling a reed as cantilever, we can estimate the natural frequency. However in the case the reed length l is short, it is anticipated that the cantilever theory causes error in some degree due to the range of application. Therefore by oscillating the reed with impulse, we get its natural frequency experimentally. The reed is made of SK-4 spring material (the Youngs modulus is about 190 GPa, density is about 7800 kg/m3). B. Measurement of Volume Flow Rate through a Reed Valve The volume flow rate through reed valves must be enough to ventilate almost whole the thruster. In order to estimate total volume flow rate of the air-breathing system, we conducted the measurement of the volume flow rate per a reed. The experiment setup is described in Fig. 4. A reed is set in the chamber and the inside pressure is changed by opening and closing the solenoid valve which connects chamber to the vacuum tank. The movement of the reed is measured by the laser displacement meter (KEYENCE LK-500). Volume flow rate qv is defined as volume of the

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chamber over opening time of the reed. The volume of the chamber is 126 cm3. Again, the reed is made of SK4 spring material and the sizes tested are determined so that the natural frequency is much larger than that of pressure oscillation generated. VI. RESULT CFD result is shown in Fig. 5. It portrays the dependence of the pressure oscillation frequency fp and ventilation time tv upon thruster length L. It can be said that fp is approximately in inverse proportion to L. This is because fp is determined by the propagation of the expansion wave in the thruster. Since the velocity of the expansion wave is nearly the same as the sonic velocity and since sonic velocity is constant under the constant temperature, the time of the propagation cycle tc is almost proportional to L. That is why fp is approximately in inverse proportion to L. And it is found that the frequency ranges 3-20 Hz for length 5-30 m. The time which can be used for ventilation tv is approximately proportional to the L because tv is defined as half of the tc. Fig. 6 shows the result of the natural frequency measurement fe with theoretically calculated one ft. As we anticipated in advance, the difference between fe and ft gets larger when l is shorter than 70 mm. And it is found that the fe can be roughly 200 Hz which is as ten times large as 20 Hz when the reed length l is equal to 30 mm. Fig. 7 is experiment result of the volume flow rate measurement. About 3.5 l/s volume flow rate is obtained for every reed whose length is 32 mm. The reason why volume flow rate is large when the thickness h is thin is that the movement of the reed become large with small h. Actually, the maximum reed tip displacement y = 1.3 mm is observed when h = 0.3 mm while y = 1.0 mm when h = 0.35 mm. However we must be careful that this happens when the natural frequency of a reed should be much larger than that of pressure oscillation.

VII. DISCUSSION ABOUT THE ACTUAL ROCKET Using the results of the former section, we estimated the volume flow rate Qv which is anticipated to be obtained by the reed valves and Qn which is necessary for complete ventilation for the several sizes of actual thruster. The reed length 30 mm, width 10 mm, and thickness 0.3 mm are applied and the number of the reeds is determined by the 25 20 Frequency fp [Hz] 15 100 10 5 0 0 10 20 30 40 Thruster Length L [m]
Fig. 5. CFD result which shows relationship between thruster length L, frequency of pressure oscillation fp, and ventilation time tv.

200 Ventilation Time tv [msec]

150

50

350 Natural Frequency of Reed [Hz] 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 0 30 60 90 Reed Length l [mm] 120 fe(h=0.3) fe(h=0.35) fe(h=0.4) ft(h=0.3) ft(h=0.35) ft(h=0.4)

Fig. 4. Schematic experiment setup for the measurement of the volume flow rate through a reed valve.

Fig. 6. Experiment Result which shows relationship between the natural frequency of the reed fe and the reed size parameter (the reed length l and thickness h). Lines shows natural frequency ft calculated by cantilever theory. The width 12 mm is fixed.

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3.6 Pmax = 0.05 bar Volume Flow Rate qv [l/s] 3.5

3.4

3.3 0.28 0.3 0.32 0.34 0.36

Reed Thickness h [mm]


Fig. 7. Experiment Result which shows relationship between the natural frequency of the reed fe and the reed size parameter (the reed length l and thickness h). Lines shows natural frequency ft calculated by cantilever theory. Length and width of the reed is 32 mm and 12 mm respectively. Obtained maximum negative pressure is 0.05 bar

side-thruster area St of the thruster. Here, 37 % of the side surface area is assumed to be occupied by the reeds. And Qv is obtained by multiplying qv= 3.5 l/s by the number of the reeds. Because qv is constant and number of the reeds is proportional to St, = DL, Qv is proportional to DL. Thruster volume is calculated as the cylinder whose length is L and diameter is D. By dividing this volume by ventilation time tv, we can obtain Qn. Here, Qn is approximately proportional to D2 because cylinder volume is expressed as D2L and tv is roughly proportional to L. Therefore, it can be predicted that Qv/Qn has linear relationship to L/D. Fig. 8 describes the result of the estimation. As it is anticipated, the linear relationship between Qv/Qn and L/D is obtained. Usually Qv/Qn is called partial filling rate, and L/D is called aspect ratio. Complete ventilation will be accomplished when partial filling rate is larger than 1. It can be said that aspect ratio should be larger than 11, providing that qv = 3.5 l/s (Pmax = 0.05 bar) is constant. However as Fig. 3 shows, in the typical experiment, Pmax = 0.65 bar is observed which means there is margin for enlarging qv and making aspect ratio small.
VIII. CONCLUSION

1.6 Partial Filling Rate Qv/Qn 1.4 1.2 1

CFD calculation and experiment was conducted to get the pressure oscillation frequency inside the thruster, natural frequency of a reed valve, and volume flow rate through a reed. It was found that pressure oscillation frequency is approximately in inverse proportion to the thruster length from the CFD calculation. Moreover, it came out that there are adequate sizes of a reed which allows it to follow the pressure oscillation. Considering these results, estimation of the actual volume flow rate by the air-breathing system was discussed. It was found that there is minimum thruster aspect ratio around 11 where complete ventilation can be accomplished when maximum negative pressure generated is about 0.05 bar. REFERENCES
[1] J. L. Shad, J. J. Moriarty, 1965 Propulsion and Reentry: XVI Intern. Astronaut. Congr. Athens vol. 5, pp. 17586 [2] T. Endo, J. Kasahara, et al. Pressure History at Thrust Wall of a Simplified Pulse Detonation Engine, AIAA Journal, Vol. 42, No. 9, September. 2004 [3] G. Blair, 1996, Design and Simulation of Two-Stroke Engines, Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc, pp 367-370 [4] Y. Shiraishi, Y. Oda, T. Shibata, K. Komurasaki, Air Breathing Process in a Repetitively Pulsed Microwave Rocket, AIAA 2008-1085 [5] Y. Oda, K. Komurasaki, et al., An Experimental Study on a Thrust Generation Model for Microwave Beamed Energy Propulsion, AIAA 2006-0765

0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0 5 Pmax = 0.05 bar 10 15 Aspect Ratio L/D 20

Fig. 8. Relationship between partial filling rate Qn/Qv and aspect ratio L/D.

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