Space propulsion

The department is active in the following topics:

Hypersonic Vehicles Design

As the air traffic rate is considerably increasing since a few years now, especially for very long distance flights, drastic reduction in travel times for commercial long range transport would be very attractive. However, this objective is achievable only thanks to a new flight regime, namely hypersonic transport.

Nevertheless, even if this interest goes back forty years ago now, still many challenges related to the design of hypersonic cruise vehicles have to be overcome before they operate safely and efficiently. Indeed, structural design of hypersonic vehicles differs significantly from that of classical subsonic aircraft as the aerothermodynamic loads, required propulsion system, the fuel containment system, and therefore the shape and/or dimensions of the vehicle might be very different. Different stress distribution and more severe thermal stresses for the structure are seen for such vehicles. Moreover, the extremely high thermal loads reduce both the yield stress and the stiffness of most materials. Therefore, innovative structural concepts and the need for a closer coupling of the tools used for both the aerodynamic and the structural calculations are required.

ATM department is actively involved in design of hypersonic cruise vehicles (e.g. LAPCAT A2 Mach 5 aircraft) through different European projects such as LAPCAT I, LAPCAT II, CHATT, etc. Our research is mainly focused on sizing and optimisation of the entire structure, as well as the design of their required cryogenic liquid hydrogen tanks.



Hybrid rocket propulsion

ULB-ATM is carrying out experimental and numerical investigations on Hybrid Rocket Engine propulsion. A Hybrid Rocket Motor of 1.5 kN was designed and built in the framework of the student and research activities. The test bench consists of the injection line, the ignition part, the combustion chamber, the con-di nozzle and venting. The motor can be loaded with HTPB and Paraffin-based fuel, nitrous oxide is used as an oxidizer. The lab is equipped with high speed camera, laser diffraction and IR camera for spray characterization. Various commercial and opensource software is used to predict performance of a Hybrid propulsive system, as well as for a deeper investigation of combustion efficiency of melting fuels.