Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Hybrid rockets motors provide distinct safety advantages when compared to traditional liquid or solid propellant systems, due to the inherent stability and relative inertness of the propellants prior to established combustion. As a result of this inherent propellant stability, hybrid motors have historically proven difficult to ignite. State of the art hybrid igniter designs continue to require solid or liquid reactants distinct from the main propellants. These ignition methods however, reintroduce to the hybrid propulsion system the safety and complexity disadvantages associated with traditional liquid or solid propellants. The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of a novel direct electrostatic arc ignition method for hybrid motors. A series of small prototype stand-alone thrusters demonstrating this technology were successfully designed and tested using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic and Gaseous Oxygen (GOX) as propellants. Measurements of input voltage and current demonstrated that arc-ignition will occur using as little as 10 watts peak power and less than 5 joules total energy. The motor developed for the stand-alone small thruster was adapted as a gas generator to ignite a medium-scale hybrid rocket motor using nitrous oxide /and HTPB as propellants. Multiple consecutive ignitions were performed. A large data set as well as a collection of development 'lessons learned' were compiled to guide future development and research. Since the completion of this original groundwork research, the concept has been developed into a reliable, operational igniter system for a 75mm hybrid motor using both gaseous oxygen and liquid nitrous oxide as oxidizers. A development map of the direct spark ignition concept is presented showing the ow of key lessons learned between this original work and later follow on development.
Judson, Michael I. Jr., "Direct Electrical Arc Ignition of Hybrid Rocket Motors" (2015). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Spring 1920 to Summer 2023. 4149.
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