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Laser Ignition Technology for Bi-Propellant Rocket Engine ApplicationsThe fiber optically coupled laser ignition approach summarized is under consideration for use in igniting bi-propellant rocket thrust chambers. This laser ignition approach is based on a novel dual pulse format capable of effectively increasing laser generated plasma life times up to 1000 % over conventional laser ignition methods. In the dual-pulse format tinder consideration here an initial laser pulse is used to generate a small plasma kernel. A second laser pulse that effectively irradiates the plasma kernel follows this pulse. Energy transfer into the kernel is much more efficient because of its absorption characteristics thereby allowing the kernel to develop into a much more effective ignition source for subsequent combustion processes. In this research effort both single and dual-pulse formats were evaluated in a small testbed rocket thrust chamber. The rocket chamber was designed to evaluate several bipropellant combinations. Optical access to the chamber was provided through small sapphire windows. Test results from gaseous oxygen (GOx) and RP-1 propellants are presented here. Several variables were evaluated during the test program, including spark location, pulse timing, and relative pulse energy. These variables were evaluated in an effort to identify the conditions in which laser ignition of bi-propellants is feasible. Preliminary results and analysis indicate that this laser ignition approach may provide superior ignition performance relative to squib and torch igniters, while simultaneously eliminating some of the logistical issues associated with these systems. Further research focused on enhancing the system robustness, multiplexing, and window durability/cleaning and fiber optic enhancements is in progress.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Thomas, Matthew E.
(CFD Research Corp. Huntsville, AL United States)
Bossard, John A.
(CFD Research Corp. Huntsville, AL United States)
Early, Jim
(Los Alamos National Lab. NM United States)
Trinh, Huu
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Dennis, Jay
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Turner, James
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
December 5, 2001
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Meeting Information
JANNAF CS/APS/PSHS/MSS Joint Meeting(Destin, FL)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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