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Trident Scholar Program
Trident Scholar Program

MIDN 1/C Kaden C. Dohm - 1st Company

Optimizing Deflagration and Structural Properties of Aluminum-Rich Paraffin-Based Hybrid Rocket Motors

Advisers:  Associate Professor Jin S. Kang, Instructor of Practical Application Spencer E. Temkin, Aerospace Engineering Department
External Collaborators:  Professor Grant A. Risha, Assistant Research Professor Eric Boyer, Pennsylvania State University
Major:  Aerospace Engineering

The most limiting factor of modern hybrid rocketry is the low regression rate of the fuel.  Recent discoveries of liquefying fuels such as paraffin have greatly improved the regression rate of hybrid rocket fuels; however, paraffin has a low compressive strength and fractures easily. Recent studies show that the incorporation of polyethylene and aluminum powder can maintain and even increase the high regression rate of paraffin rocket motors and increase the structural strength to allow these motors to survive flight loads experienced during launch. This project seeks to further advance the benefits of the addition of aluminum powder as previous research suggests that the addition of aluminum powder at a concentration greater than 25% by mass could greatly increase the regression rate. The structural properties determined from compressive yield testing and scanning electron microscopy show that higher concentrations of aluminum powder do improve structural properties up to a concentration of 35% until the fuel becomes brittle. Although the regression rate will increase for concentrations of aluminum powder that are greater than 35%, this concentration is optimal in order to prevent the potential fracturing of fuel during a rocket launch which could lead to a catastrophic motor failure.

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