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Pistonless Dual Chamber Rocket Fuel Pump


For performance, a rocket must have large, lightweight propellant tanks ... NASA. Fastrac. TRW. Low Cost Pintle Engine. Beal. BA 810. Microcosm. Scorpius ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Pistonless Dual Chamber Rocket Fuel Pump

Pistonless Dual Chamber Rocket Fuel Pump
  • Steve Harrington, Ph.D.
  • 5-22-03

California Space Institute
LOX/Jet-A Pressure Fed Design Working Well
Whats Next? More Altitude!
The Problem is Mass Ratio How to Make a
Lightweight, Inexpensive Rocket with a Large Fuel
  • For performance, a rocket must have large,
    lightweight propellant tanks
  • Pressure fed tanks are heavy and/or expensive and
    safety margins cost too much in terms of
  • Turbopumps require massive engineering effort and
    are expensive.
  • The solution is the The Dual Pistonless Pump
  • Simple to design and manufacture and with
    performance comparable to a turbopump and
    complexity comparable to a pressure fed system.

  • Discuss basic pump design concept
  • Introduce latest pump innovations
  • List pump advantages over turbopump and pressure
    fed systems.
  • Present pump test results
  • Derive calculation of pump thrust to weight ratio
    which show that a LOX/RP-1 pump has a T/W of over

First Generation Design
  • Drain the main tank at low pressure into a small
  • Pressurize the small chamber and feed to the
  • Run two in parallel, venting and filling one
    faster than the other is emptied

More info at www. rocketfuelpump.com
Second Generation Design
  • Main chamber vents and fills quickly through
    multiple check valves.
  • One main chamber and one auxiliary chamber,
    less weight than two chambers of equal size
  • Pump fits in tank, simplified plumbing
  • Concentric design maintains balance.
  • Model has been built and tested (patent pending)

  • Much lighter than pressure fed system at similar
  • At one to two orders of magnitude lower
    engineering and manufacturing cost than
  • Low weight, comparable to turbopump.
  • Quick startup, shutdown. No fuel used during
    spool up.
  • Can be run dry. No minimum fuel requirement.
  • Less than 10 moving parts. Inherent reliability.
  • Inexpensive materials and processes.
  • Negligible chance of catastrophic failure.
  • Scalable, allows for redundant systems.

Engineering Cost Dual Pistonless Pump
  • Check Valves
  • Level Sensors
  • Pressure vessels
  • These parts are available off the shelf
  • Control System (microprocessor or logic circuit)

Pump model made from industrial/consumer parts 4
MPa, 1.2 kg/sec, 7 kg
Engineering cost Turbopumps
  • Fluid Dynamics of rotor/stator
  • Bearings
  • Seals
  • Cavitation
  • Heat transfer
  • Thermal shock
  • Rotor dynamics
  • Startup
  • Shut down

Development Issues
  • Currently uses slightly more gas than pressure
    fed system. Can use less with pressurant heating.
  • Not invented here.
  • No experience base, must be static tested and
  • Requires different system optimization than
    pressure fed or turbopump systems no sample
    problems in the book.

Pump Performance
  • Pump performance close to target of 1.5 kg/sec at
    4 Mpa
  • Pressure spikes have been reduced.
  • Pump chamber vents and pressurizes more quickly
    when running on Helium
  • Pump needs to be tested with engine and flown to
    prove design.

Pump running on compressed air at room
temperature, pumping water.
Pistonless Pump Mass Calculation
Chamber Mass
Spherical Chamber Volume and Diameter
Combine Equations to get Chamber Mass as a
function of flow rate
Chamber Thickness in terms of fuel pressure and
maximum stress
Pistonless Pump Thrust to weight Ratio
  • Assumptions
  • Auxiliary chamber is 1/4 the size of main chamber
  • Valves and ullage add 25 to mass
  • Total pump mass is 1.252 or1.56 times main
    chamber mass 1/(1.561.5).43

Thrust for Ideal Expansion
Pump thrust to weight
Typical Pump Thrust/Weight Calculations
  • Rocket Chamber Pressure 4 MPa
  • Pump cycle time 5 seconds.
  • Sea level Specific Impulse from Huang and Huzel ,
  • Pump Chambers are 2219 aluminum, 350 MPa design
    yield strength, 2.8 specific gravity

Another Calculation Mass Savings of Pump and
Tank Over Pressure Fed Tank
  • Mass of pressure fed tank is proportional to
    volume and pressure
  • Mass of pump fed system is the mass of a lighter
    low pressure tank plus the mass of the pump
  • Tank Mass Savings
  • 200 KPa tank is 1/10 the weight of a 2 MPa tank.
  • Pump chamber pressure is the same as pressure fed
    tank pressure, but the volume is much less.

Pump Mass is Negligible for Long Burn Times
  • The volume of the pump chamber is proportional
    to the flow rate times the cycle time
  • The volume of the tank is equal to the flow rate
    times the burn time.
  • Therefore the ratio of the pump chamber mass to
    the tank mass is equal to the ratio of the cycle
    time to the burn time if we put in a factor of
    1.56 to account for the auxiliary chamber, valves

Pump volume ratio
Tank pressure ratio
Mass Savings over Pressure Fed System
5 second cycle time and 300 KPa tank pressure
Conclusions/ Future Plans
  • Pump weight and cost are low and it works as
  • Next steps
  • Static test and fly pump in student rocket with
    Flometrics rocket technology.
  • Combine with low cost ablative engines and low
    cost vehicles for low cost access to space.

NASA Fastrac
Beal BA 810
TRW Low Cost Pintle Engine
Microcosm Scorpius
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