KeraSchub - Feasibility Study of Regeneratively Cooled Thrust Chambers Made of C/SiC Ceramic Composites
The thermo-mechanical loads in the combustion chamber wall of high performance liquid propellant rocket engines are beyond the elasticity limit of the best metals available today. Even those rocket motors with the longest service life, the Russian RD- 170/180/190, are limited to only 20 flight cycles. Generally, more than 50 % of all launch failures are caused by the propulsion system (Fig. right, top).
Metallic materials appear to have reached their technological limit. For several decades now, little or no improvements have been achieved with respect to service life, flight cycles, reliability and safety. However, steady progress has been made in the field of ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials and in particular carbon-fiber reinforced silicon carbide (C/SiC). Although C/SiC CMC's are in operational use today, very high production costs remain a key constraint for space applications and even more so for any other potential mass markets. For this reason, non- space related material research has been focused on developing methods, which allow a significant reduction in production costs, in recent years. As a result, a first mass market introduction is starting in the field of C/SiC car disk brakes.
KeraSchub is an example of simultaneous technology spin-in and spin-off. Rather than considering space R&D as an isolated discipline, existing non-space technologies are used for space applications and the resulting advanced know-how can be spun- off to non-space applications. In the case of KeraSchub for instance, these are industrial high temperature heat exchangers.
For the next step, representative ceramic samples tests are proposed in ASAP 7, in order to confirm the very encouraging theoretical results of KeraSchub.
Orbspace Engineering - Aron Lentsch