Catalyzed Ignition of Methane/Hydrogen/Oxygen Mixtures in a Platinum Microtube for Microthruster Applications
Authors: C. A. Mento, C. J. Sung, A. F. Ibarreta, and S. J. Schneider
Direct link to the paper: 20814, 35400017019853.0050
Catalyzed combustion of propellants in a microtube serves as a model of a microthruster that has potential applications for micropropulsion for small satellites/spacecraft. The effect of hydrogen addition on fuel-rich methane/oxygen ignition within a 0.40-mm-diam platinum microtube is investigated experimentally. All tests are conducted in a vacuum chamber with an ambient pressure of 0.0136 atm to simulate high-altitude conditions. Experimental results show that the critical temperature needed to catalytically lightoff fuel-rich methane/oxygen mixtures is reduced by the addition of small amounts of hydrogen to the mixture. Two-stage ignition phenomena are observed for low levels of hydrogen addition (2-7% by volume), with the first and second ignition conditions corresponding to the reactions of hydrogen and methane, respectively. The effects of changing flow rate (residence time), equivalence ratio, and amount of hydrogen addition on the critical ignition temperature are investigated. The ability of the catalyst to sustain chemical reactions once the input power is turned off is also explored and, for most cases, self-sustainability is realized. Various microtube performance parameters are estimated for all experiments, which include thrust, specific impulse, and power required to ignite reactions within the microtube.
Citation: C. A. Mento, C. J. Sung, A. F. Ibarreta, and S. J. Schneider, “Catalyzed Ignition of Methane/Hydrogen/Oxygen Mixtures in a Platinum Microtube for Microthruster Applications,” Journal of Propulsion and Power 25 (6), 1203-1210 (2009).