NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 07.04-5000A

PROJECT TITLE: Vortex Combustion Ramjet (VCRJ)

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

ORBITEC proposes an advanced vortex combustion ramjet (VCRJ) featuring an innovative, vortex-flow, wall surface burning combustor, having improved combustion efficiency with cleaner burning and an extended operating range. Full-wall, liquid-fuel injection is expected to permit wide throttling without flame holders because the combustion is anchored at the wall as in a hybrid rocket engine. ORBITEC has been developing a similar device as a hybrid rocket engine with solid fuel walls. The unique co-axial vortex promotes combustion, with an extended flow path and thorough mixing. Benefits include: simplicity, low cost, and improved combustion to provide enhanced performance, with extended range and flight ceiling for the vehicle. In Phase I, a small prototype ramjet will be designed, built and tested. In Phase II, a larger engine will be flown in an RPV. NASA applications may include a research RPV, providing design and operational data for SST propulsion. Early commercial applications include RPV’s to be used in forest fire surveillance, traffic and accident viewing, search and rescue and weather observations, government use may include RPV’s for border surveillance, cruise weapon systems, target drones, and forward observation aircraft. These uses also support continued development of the engine cycle for SST applications, including fractional orbit vehicles.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

Future commercial applications for this technology include RPV’s and SST propulsion. Near-term use includes small aerial vehicles that are best powered by ramjets, such as RPV’s for observation and communication uses, and possibly as reusable replacements for weather balloons and in some cases, sounding rockets. Military uses are more common where the ramjet simplicity, low weight, high speed, and small frontal area are advantageous. Aerial target drones, cruise weapon systems, and forward observation craft are typical. In the military applications, the fuel efficiency can be offset by mission profile and battle strategy approaches. These applications generate data bases for SST propulsion. In addition the general technology of this new vortex combustor potentially has substantial industrial significance. Cyclone burners have been used for many years to take advantage of vortex-driven combustion. The new vortex flow proposed to be developed in this project extends the technology and the benefits because of the nature of the flow unique to the ORBITEC vortex flow concept. Many classes of air-fired combustors can use this new flow field for improved combustion efficiency and environmental benefits.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

William H. Knuth
Orbital Technologies Corporation
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison , WI 53717

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

Orbital Technologies Corporation
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison , WI 53717