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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

SEMINAR REPORT

ON

SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET


ENGINES

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the


award of the degree of

BACHELOR OF TECHNOLOGY
In
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Submitted by

MUHAMMAD SHEBIN S B : LVAK16ME053

DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING


VIDYA ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
TECHNICALCAMPUS, KILIMANOOR 695602
SEPTEMBER 2019

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, VAST TC, Kilimanoor Page 1


SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

VIDYA ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


TECHNICAL CAMPUSKILIMANOOR-695602
DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

CERTIFICATE
Certified that seminar work entitled “SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET
ENGINES” is a bonafide work carried out in the seventh semester by “MUHAMMAD
SHEBIN S B” (LVAK16ME053)”in partial fulfillment for the award of Bachelor of
Technology in “MECHANICAL ENGINEERING” from APJ ABDUL KALAM
TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY during the academic year 2016 -2020. Who
carried out the seminar work under the guidance and no part of this work has been
submitted earlier for the award of any degree.

SEMINAR CO-ORDINATOR SEMINAR GUIDE

Mr. A VIMAL Mr. A VIMAL


Assistant Professor Assistant professor
Department of Mechanical Engg. Department of Mechanical Engg.
Vidya Academy of Science and Vidya Academy of Science and
Technology Technical Campus, Technology Technical Campus,
Kilimanoor, 695602 Kilimanoor, 695602

HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT


Mr. BIJEESH P
Professor,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Vidya Academy of Science & Technology Technical Campus, Kilimanoor-695602

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We express our extreme sense of gratitude to Mr. BIJEESH P, Head of the


Department of Mechanical Engineering, for his gentle understanding, guidance and
constant inspiration.

I sincerely thank seminar coordinator and my guide Mr. A VIMAL, Assistant


Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, VAST TC for his keen interest,
constant encouragement, constructive suggestions and inspiring guidance in every aspect of
the work which has enabled us to complete this report successfully.

I express my thanks to all the faculty members of Department of Mechanical


Engineering for their help and cooperation.

Special thanks to all our trade instructors, classmates and friends at VAST-TC who
stood by our side during the endeavor.

And finally, I thank the almighty for showering the blessings upon me, and my parents who
guided me in every step

MUHAMMAD SHEBIN S B

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 3
ABSTRACT 5
LIST OF FIGURES 6
LIST OF TABLES 6
ABBREVIATION 7
NOTATIONS 8
CHAPTER TITLE PAGE NO

1.0 INTRODUCTION
1.1 INTRODUCTION 9
1.2 HYSTORY AND CURRENT STATUS 10
1.3 SYSTEM COMPONENTS 10
1.3.1 PRE-COOLER 11
1.3.2 COMPRESSOR 12
1.3.3 HELIUM LOOP 13
1.3.4 BYPASS THRUSTER 13
1.3.5 ENGINE 13
1.3.6 NOZZLES 14
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW 15
3.0 METHODOLOGY
3.1 BRAYTON CYCLE 17
3.2 THE SABRE CYCLE 17
3.3 WORKING 18
3.4 PRECOOLED ENGINE ANALYSIS 19
3.4.1 LACE PERFORMANCE CALCULATION 19
3.4.2 SABRE (ISENTROPIC) PERFORMANCE 20
CALCULATIONS
4.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
4.1 PERFORMANCE COMPARISON 22
4.2 SABRE PERFORMANCE 23
5.0 CONCLUSION 24
6.0 REFERENCES 25

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

ABSTRACT

Present study focuses on the special kind of power plant, which can take an aircraft
from surface of earth to the orbit of earth. Commonly known as SABRE. It’s also
known as Single Stage to Orbit engine. It’s basically a combination of both air
breathing engine and rocket engine. As to send one or more personals into space utilize
whole of one rocket and tons of propellant which leads to an expensive mission
whereas use of SABRE not only reduce the cost (because in atmosphere it is used as air
breathing engine which suck the oxygen directly from atmosphere) also increase the
easiness.
The issues relevant to propulsion design for Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) vehicles are
considered. In particular two air-breathing engine concepts involving precooling are
compared; SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing and Rocket Engine) as designed for the
Skylon SSTO launch vehicle, and a LACE (Liquid Air Cycle Engine) considered in the
1960’s by the Americans for an early generation space plane. It is shown that through
entropy minimization the SABRE has made substantial gains in performance over the
traditional LACE precooled engine concept, and has shown itself as the basis of a
viable means of realizing a SSTO vehicle. Further, it is demonstrated that the precooler
is a major source of thermodynamic irreversibility within the engine cycle and that
further reduction in entropy can be realized by increasing the heat transfer coefficient
on their side of the precooler. If this were to be achieved, it would improve the payload
mass delivered to orbit by the Skylon launch vehicle by between 5 and 10%.

Keywords: Precooled air-breathing engine, heat exchanger, LACE, SABRE, Skylon,


SSTO, Brayton cycle

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

LIST OF FIGURES
Fig. Page.
Name of Figure
No. No

1 Schematic diagram of SABRE engine. 12

2 SABRE engine pre-cooler 13

Pre-cooler design
3 13

4 CAD design of 80% bell Nozzle 15

5 Brayton Cycle 18

6 Simplified SABRE cycle 19

Black box precooled engine cycle diagram.


7 21

LIST OF TABLES

Table Page.
Name of Figure
No. No

Precooled Air-Breathing Engine Performance Characteristics for Flight


1 Condition Mach = 5, EAS = 600 kts and a Pressure Recovery Factor of 0.3.
23

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ABBREVIATIONS
(List in the alphabetical order)

HOTOL Horizontal Take-Off and Landing


HX Heat Exchanger
LACE Liquid-Air Cycle Engines
MUSS Multy-Use Single-Stage
RE Reaction Engines ltd.
SABRE Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engines
SSTO Single-Stage To Orbit
SUMS Single-Use Multi -Stage
TC Turbo Compressor

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NOTATIONS
(List in the alphabetical order)

Symbols:
A Heat transfer surface area m2
h Specific enthalpy J/kg
h* heat transfer coefficient W/(m2 K)
Isp Specific Impulse s
m• Mass flow rate kg/s M Mach number P Pressure N/m2
Sgen Total cycle entropy generation J/K
s Specific entropy J/(kgK)
T Temperature K
EAS Equivalent Air Speed Ratio kts
LH2 Liquid Hydrogen
LOX Liquid Oxygen

Greek letters:
γ Ratio of specific heats
ηKE Intake kinetic energy efficiency

Subscripts:
a Air
c Cycle
f Final
h Hydrogen
he Helium
i Initial
o Total/overall
r Recovered
ref Reference

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

1.1 INTRODUCTION

Several attempts have made by aerospace engineers to design Single stage to orbit
vehicle (SSTO) propulsion system but all in vain due to large weight of stocked oxidizer,
essential for traditional rocket engine have done several attempts. One way, which has
incredible potential as the solution for this difficulty, is use of environmental oxygen as
oxidizer in combustion process like air breathing jet engines. This weight minimization
allows the evolution from single-use multi-stage (SUMS) launch vehicles to multi-use
single stage (MUSS) launch vehicles SABRE is the first engine to accomplish this goal by
effectively functioning in two rocket modes: primarily in air-breathing mode and later on in
traditional rocket mode, to power aerospace vehicle in SSTO mode. Ultimately, to permit
cost effective, reliable, responsive space exploration with increase payload also to allow
aerospace vehicle to cruise at low hypersonic speed (around Mach 5.5) within the earth's
atmosphere.

In primary mode or air breathing mode, SABRE engine Sucks atmospheric oxygen as
oxidizer to burn with stocked liquid hydrogen. After achieving Mach 5.5 and 28.5 km
altitude engine engaged into the secondary rocket mode and use onboard stocked oxygen
like conventional rocket engines. In both modes of engine, the thrust is produced via the
rocket combustion chamber and nozzles, made possible by synthesis of rudiments of gas
turbine and rocket technology. The paper deals with a study on SABRE engine and its
dominance over conventional propulsion system. The paper is sectioned as following:
Second section deals with System components, third one depicts performance of engine,
and fourth section offers a coversetion on history and present performance and finally
fourth concluded the study.

The LACE engine is one variant of an overall class of air breathing engines known as
‘precooled engines’. These are active compression engines but overcome the Mach number
limitation of the turbojet by ‘pre-cooling’ the air prior to compression. In doing so, far
greater compression ratios can be achieved, enabling a vehicle to be propelled from static
sea level conditions up to Mach 5 with T/W ratios 3 to 4 times that of the turbojet or
ramjet. In addition, by operating at a high pressure ratio in air-breathing mode, the same
rocket combustion chamber, nozzle and pumps can be used for both the air breathing and
rocket modes of operation. This minimizes the mass penalty of the air-breathing turbo
machinery and removes the base drag penalty of unused nozzles. The LACE, whilst
offering good T/W up to Mach 5, exhibits inadequate specific impulse due to its inherently

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high fuel flows. This can be avoided, however, by a redesign of the precooled engine
concept using an optimized thermodynamic cycle, and is the design principle behind the
Reaction Engine’s Ltd deeply precooled (non-liquefying) SABRE engine. A twenty year
study and technology development centered on the HOTOL and Skylon vehicles has been
able to show that deeply precooled air-breathing engines combined with a rocket mode of
operation for the later stages of ascent are able to offer a viable means of achieving a SSTO
vehicle with adequate payload margin; the performance gained from the higher specific
impulse in the air-breathing phase offsetting the impact of the increased dry mass on the
rocket phase.

1.2 HYSTORY AND CURRENT STATUS


The pre-cooler concept of SABRE engine derived from the concept introduced by
Robert P. Carmichael in 1955, followed by the LACE concept reconnoitered by General
Dynamics in the 1960. As a part of the HOTOL project the Rolls Royce RB545 engine was
developed with a more efficient cycle compare to LACE. In 1989, after funding for
HOTOL project stopped, Bond and several other founded Reaction Engines Limited to
continue the research on HOTOL concept. The pre-cooler of RB545 had some disputes
with embrittlement, excess LH2 consumption, patents and some Official Secrets Act, so RE
Developed SABRE . In November of 2012, hardware experimentation of the heat
exchanger technology essential to SABRE had been successfully completed, demonstrated
viability of the technology. The SABRE engine bank on a heat exchanger adequate of
cooling of incoming air up to −150 °C (−238 °F), to offer LOX for mixing with hydrogen to
provide jet thrust during atmospheric flight before terminating to the rocket mode. The
experiments confirmed the performance of heat exchanger to suck sufficient and suitable
oxygen from the earth’s atmosphere to support the high-performance operation even in low
altitude .In 2015; the SABRE passed all the feasibility tests accomplished by the Research
Laboratories U.S. Air Force.

1.3 SYSTEM COMPONENTS


Like RB545, a Rollce Royce (RR) engine concept for Horizontal Take-off and
Landing (HOTOL), SABRE is a hybrid of air breathing engine and rocket engine, evolved
from Liquid-Air Cycle Engines (LACE) and works on combined cycle of brayton cycle
and having a single rocket combustion chamber with associated pumps, pre-burner and
nozzle, exploited in both modes to use environmental air for low altitude and speed and
afterwards uses liquid oxygen (LOx) for higher altitudes to work as a rocket engine. A
simple translating axisymmetric shock cone inlet, at front of the engine, slowdowns the
sucked environmental air to subsonic speeds by means of two shock reflections. Some part
of the sucked hot air passes radically through a precooler into the central core, with leftover

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passes through a ringlet of bypass ramjets. Central core of SEBRE after the precooler
implements a Turbo-compressor (TC) operates on the same helium (He) loop and Brayton
cycle that compresses the air and leads it into the combustion chamber. For rocket mode
oxygen is used as oxidizer and fed to the combustion chamber. The study of system
components is classified as follows:
1. Pre-cooler
2. Compressor
3. Helium loop
4. Bypass thruster
5. Engines
6. Nozzle.

Figure 1 illustrates schematic diagram of SABRE engine.

1.3.1 PRE-COOLER

Due to compression effects sucked environmental air at supersonic/ hypersonic speed


becomes very hot. Conventionally, in jet engines this high temperature is dealt using heavy
Nickel (Ni) or Copper (Cu) based material, by reducing the pressure ratio and by strangling
back the engine at higher airspeed to elude melting. But in SSTO vehicles, heavy materials
are useless due to weight problems and throttling is not done to get maximum thrust out of
it for orbital insertion and to escape earth’s gravity earliest to minimize gravity losses.

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SABRE design is emerged from Liquid-Air Cycle Engine (LACE) concept. LACE utilizes
the cooling capability of cryogenic liquid hydrogen (LH2) to liquefy incoming
environmental air before pumping, but regrettably liquefied air needs high fuel flow. The
stated problem is solved in SABRE by cooling down the air to the vapor boundary (from
1000°C to -150 °C in 0.01 sec), avoiding liquefaction eliminating blocking by freezing of
liquid vapor as well as cooling requirement and LH2 flow, using heat exchanger in pre-
cooler and endorse the need of a relatively traditional turbo compressor. For cooling in pre-
cooler is achieved by He itself cooled by liquid hydrogen. For prevention of ice formation,
a methanol-injecting 3D-printed dicer is implemented to prevent ice formation.

Fig. 2. SABRE engine pre-cooler

As illustrated in figure 2, inlet slowdowns the sucked air and guides to the outer
fringes, which flows inward through the pre-cooler and lead to compressor. Figure 3
exhibits a comprehensive depiction of pre-cooler used by Reaction Engines Ltd. (RE) in
SABRE engine. As the hot sucked air travel axially across it, some of flow is caught
radially inside it and crosses a number of small chained pipes filled with HE flow, results
in conversion from hot air to cold air, design guarantees cool down of air up to a desired
temperature preventing liquefaction.
Coolant flow
Hot air

Upper manifolds

Cold air

Lower manifolds Hot air

Middle pipes

Fig. 3. Pre-cooler design

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1.3.2 COMPRESSOR
In the air breathing mode of engine air cooled by the pre-cooler passes into redesigned
TC similar to conventional jet engines’ turbo compressor but operating abnormally at high
pressure ratio, facilitated by the low temperature of the precooled air. Precooled air
compressed by the compressor at high pressure of 140 atmospheres leads to the rocket
combustion chamber to combust with stocked liquid hydrogen (LH2). Instead of powered
by combustion gases like jet engine, TC is powered by a gas turbine operating on waste
heat collected by a HE loop. Figure 4 illustrates turbo machinery of SABRE engine

1.3.3 HELIUM LOOP


The hot HE from the precooler is reprocessed by cooling it in a heat exchanger with the LH2,
heat absorbed by HE from incoming air is utilized to power various parts of engine developing a
self-starting Brayton cycle based engine

1.3.4 BYPASS THRUSTER


Avoiding liquefaction by using heat exchanger in precooler, generating less entropy
results in improved engine efficiency and boil off of less amount of liquid hydrogen
compare to amount required for artlessly cooling the air with that can be used to burn in the
engine core. The excess is eliminated by using a series of spill duct ramjet burners,
arranged in a ring around the central core, fed with air that bypasses the precooler, is
framed to minimize the undesirable effects of drag due to air that passes into the intakes but
not fed into the main rocket engine, rather than generating appreciable thrust. At low speed
the volume of air that compressor supply to combustion chamber is at peak, requiring
accelerating the bypassed air to retain efficiency at these low speeds. This differentiate the
system from a conventional turbo-ramjet system where exhaust of turbine-cycle is used to
increase air-flow for the ramjet to become adequate efficient to substitute the role of
elementary propulsion system

1.3.5 ENGINES

Static thrust potential of SEBRE makes aerospace vehicle capable to take-off in air
breathing mode like conventional jet engines. With increasing altitude escalation pressure
decreases and suck more and more air into the compressor as the effectiveness of ram
compression decreases with pressure drop .As the aerospace vehicle climb, outside air

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pressure varies with altitude change and more and plenty more amount of air is sucked into
the compressor to maintain the performance of the ram compression and makes jets
capable to function efficiently at much higher altitude than an aerospace vehicle with
conventional technique. Air-breathing system becomes incompetent and powered down
beyond Mach 5.5,and substituted by on board stocked oxygen as fuel in rocket mode,
allows the engine to operate at much higher velocity needed to accelerate the aerospace
vehicle to much higher orbital velocities (about Mach 25)

1.3.6 NOZZLE

SABRE engine operates a single array of nozzle, rather using multi stage concept like
traditional rockets. RE performed several experiments on an expansion-deflection nozzle,
named STERN, to swamp the non-dynamic exhaust expansion problem, and found the 80%
bell nozzle design as optimal solution, as shown in figure 5

Fig. 4. CAD design of 80% bell Nozzle

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

The combined cycle pre-cooled classes of engines (such as the RB545 and SABRE)
have been shown to be superior to other candidate air breathing engine for propelling single
stage to orbit vehicles. The SABRE engine has a dual mode capability. In rocket mode the
engine operates as a closed cycle LO2/LH2 high specific impulse rocket engine. In air
breathing mode (from takeoff to above Mach 5) the liquid oxygen flow is replaced by
atmospheric air, increasing the installed specific impulse 3-6 fold. The airflow is drawn
into the engine and is cooled to cryogenic temperatures prior to compression. The hydrogen
fuel acts as a heat sink for the closed cycle helium loop before entering the combustion
chamber. The SABRE engine is essentially a closed cycle rocket engine with an additional
precooled turbo-compressor to provide a high pressure air supply to the combustion
chamber. This allows operation from zero forward speed on the runway up to Mach 5.5 in
air breathing mode during the ascent. As the air density falls with altitude the engine
eventually switches to a pure rocket propelling Skylon to orbital velocity.

The issues relevant to propulsion design for Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) vehicles are
considered. In particular two air breathing engine concepts involving precooling are
compared; SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing and Rocket Engine) as designed for the
Skylon SSTO launch vehicle, and a LACE (Liquid Air Cycle Engine) considered in the
1960’s by the Americans for an early generation space plane. It is shown that through
entropy minimization the SABRE has made substantial gains in performance over the
traditional LACE precooled engine concept, and has shown itself as the basis of a viable
means of realizing a SSTO vehicle. Further, it is demonstrated that the precooler is a major
source of thermodynamic irreversibility within the engine cycle and that further reduction
in entropy can be realized by increasing the heat transfer coefficient on the air side of the
precooler. If this were to be achieved, it would improve the payload mass delivered to orbit
by the Skylon launch vehicle by between 5 and 10%.

This paper has demonstrated that the SABRE precooled engine has made substantial
gains in performance over the traditional LACE precooled engine concept and has
explained the reasons for believing that the SABRE engine will make a SSTO vehicle
viable. By designing the engine from a thermodynamic point of view, and minimizing the
entropy generation within the cycle, the SABRE has been able to make a far more efficient
split between the cooling and work demands on the engine cycle. In terms of performance
this has achieved almost double the net specific impulse of the LACE. Further advances in
performance are possible if the entropy generation within the current SABRE cycle can be
further reduced. The largest source of irreversibility within the SABRE cycle (upstream of

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

the combustion chamber) is that due to heat transfer through the precooler. Analysis has
shown that this irreversibility’s can be reduced if means can be found to moderately
increase the heat transfer coefficient on the air side of the precooler. This has the potential
to increase the payload capability of the Skylon SSTO reusable launch vehicle by a further
tonnes. This attractive prospect has inspired a research program that is focused on
enhancing the air side heat transfer of the SABRE precooler by several possible means.
Such kind of engine could become the future of aviation and space industry, which may
ease many missions from earth’s surface to space. Further modification in this engine may
lead not only to orbit but also far away from that. Such Engine could make possible space
tourism for people belongs to any community. This is a revolution for the upcoming era.

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CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

3.1 BRAYTON CYCLE

Fig 5 Brayton Cycle

The Brayton cycle (or Joule cycle) represents the operation of a gas turbine engine. The
cycle consists of four processes, as shown in Figure

1-2 Isentropic compression in the inlet and compressor;


2-3 Constant pressure fuel combustion (idealized as constant pressure heat addition);
3 - 4 Isentropic expansion in the turbine and exhaust nozzle, with which we take some
work out of the air and use it to drive the compressor, and take the remaining work
out and use it to accelerate fluid for jet propulsion, or to turn a generator for
electrical power generation;
4-1 Constant pressure heat rejection

3.2 THE SABRE CYCLE

Figure 2 shows a simplified SABRE cycle. In air-breathing mode the SABRE engine
operates similarly to a Brayton cycle whereby heat is extracted from the inlet air flow via a
precooler, producing work to drive the compressor and rejecting heat to the hydrogen
stream. A closed helium power loop is interposed between the hot air-stream and cold
hydrogen stream such that better thermal capacity matching is achieved in the heat
exchangers. This also avoids hydrogen embrittlement in the precooler tubes and provides a
barrier between the hydrogen and air, amongst other factors. In the air-breathing mode air
is cooled to a temperature above its vapour boundary (140 K), prior to compression up to
145 bar, 700 K. The hot air then divides and flows to the main combustion chamber and the
fuel rich preburner. The hot exhaust from the preburner passes through HX3 and raises the
helium temperature from the precooler to a constant value of 1180 K to provide the turbine

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

with constant operating conditions. In this way the turbomachinery operates at virtually
constant flow conditions. The hydrogen fuel delivered by the hydrogen pump is initially
used to cool and recompress the helium before passing to the preburner. In transition to
rocket mode the air intake closes, the compressor is run down and the preburner
combustion temperature is reduced since only the work to drive the turbopumps and helium
circulator is now required.

Fig 6 Simplified SABRE cycle

3.3 WORKING

The SABRE engine is principally a closed cycle rocket engine with an added pre-
cooler, followed by turbo-compressor to provide a high pressure air supply, like in air
breathing jets engine to the combustion chamber, permits it to operate from rest on to Mach
5.5 with air-breathing mode during climb. With density fall due to altitude ascent the
engine ultimately shifts into pure rocket mode propelling the aerospace vehicle to orbital
velocity (above Mach 25).

The figure 6 depicts the complete SABRE cycle. The atmospheric air, sucked by the
intake (blue), is leading to Precooler and then into the compressor. The cooling of hot
sucked air is accomplished with (HE) (green), cooled by HX4 via the LH2 fuel (purple).
After parting from the Pre-cooler the HE gets auxiliary heated in HX3 by the products of
the Pre-burner to deliver it sufficient energy to provide the turbine and then LH2 pump . In
rocket mode, HX3 offers all the energy to operate the LH2 pump and the LOX pump.
Recycling the heat in such a way enhances engine efficiency. In rocket mode on board
stoked LOx used as oxidizer.

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3.4 PRECOOLED ENGINE ANALYSIS


The aim of the following engine cycle calculations for both the generic straight LACE
(where entropy is not considered) and the deeply precooled SABRE engine (where
entropy is minimized) is to illustrate the importance of considering the impact of
entropy on the overall engine performance. The comparison is made for similar flight
conditions and combustion chamber delivery pressure, and the resultant engine
performance given in terms of equivalence ratio (where the equivalence ratio is the
ratio of the actual fuel/air ratio to the stoichiometric fuel/air ratio) and net specific
impulse. The SABRE engine cycle performance calculation initially considers an
isentropic cycle in order to fully emphasize the potential of entropy minimization.
Following the air-breathing phase both engines would revert to a pure rocket mode in
order to complete the ascent into orbit. The rocket mode engine performance is not
analyzed in this paper but is assumed to be similar for both the LACE and SABRE
cycle and hence does not deter from the conclusions drawn from the air-breathing
engine mode comparison.

3.4.1 LACE Performance Calculation

Consider the flight condition of Mach 5 (since this is close to the highest achievable
air-breathing Mach number for precooled engines) at 600 kts Equivalent Air Speed (EAS).
We can calculate the local ambient air pressure Pa via:
γa pa
EAS = √ M (1)
ρa

where ρsl is the standard sea level density of 1.225 kg/m3 , and hence determine the
corresponding ideal total air pressure. The ratio of recovered total pressure, Por , in the
intake, to the ideal total pressure, Po, can be approximately represented over a wide Mach
number range by the relation

𝛾
𝑃𝑜 (𝛾 − 1) 2 𝛾−1
= [1 + (1 − 𝜂𝐾𝐸 ) 𝑀 ] (2)
𝑃𝑜𝑟 2

where ηKE is the kinetic energy efficiency of diffusion and is typically 0.9 to 0.96 [7].
This gives a recoverable total pressure in the engine intake of just over 5 bar. The air then
flows through the air liquefier where it is cooled and liquefied at a saturation temperature
corresponding to the recovered intake pressure. At this temperature (97K), the
corresponding latent heat of vaporization of air is approximately ∆ha = 177 kJ/kg
Assuming the tanked hydrogen fuel is at 20 K and 1 bar, subsequent compression to
200 bar at 80% isentropic efficiency would give a delivery temperature of approximately
33.7 K. The enthalpy change of hydrogen from delivery conditions to 97 K is thus ∆hh =

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

887 kJ/kg. The ratio of the latent heat of air at its saturated conditions to that of the
available enthalpy of hydrogen (determined by its delivery conditions and the air saturated
temperature) defines the ‘pinch point’ and hence the corresponding minimum fuel/air ratio,

𝑓 ∆ℎ𝑎
= (3)
𝑎 ∆ℎℎ

This gives a pinch point fuel/air ratio of 0.205 or an equivalence ratio of


approximately 7. Unlike energy, entropy is not conserved and throughout the above heat
transfer process some 7000 Js/(kgK) of entropy rise occurs (see Equation 5). The liquid
may now be pumped to 200 bar using a conventional cycle for combustion at 150 bar. The
work required to compress the liquid air is assumed negligible. At lower Mach numbers the
intake recovery pressure is reduced and consequently the saturation temperature of air is
reduced causing its latent heat of condensation to increase as well as limiting the specific
enthalpy rise of the hydrogen. As a result, at lower stagnation pressures the fuel/air ratio for
the LACE engine is increased substantially, highlighting the necessity for LACE engines to
have highly efficient intakes. At higher Mach numbers metal temperature limitations on the
air liquefier set the minimum required fuel/air ratio. However, for the LACE operating up
to Mach 5 the controlling performance factor is the intake recovery pressure.

3.4.2 SABRE (Isentropic) Performance Calculation

Fig 7 Black box precooled engine cycle


diagram.

By considering the thermodynamics of an engine cycle, for the same flight conditions
and combustion chamber delivery pressure the SABRE precooled engine can achieve a far
lower fuel/ air ratio. In this cycle the air remains gaseous and the hydrogen is used as a heat
sink for the heat engine rather than purely as a coolant. In doing this, sufficient work can be
produced to compress the air stream whilst minimizing the required fuel flow, and is a
direct result of minimizing the entropy generation within the cycle. To illustrate the
SABRE concept, consider a ‘black-box’ precooled engine cycle as an open isolated system

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

as shown in Fig. 7. The entropy change within the isolated system equals the sum of the
entropy changes as a result of all the irreversibility’s of the system components. These
irreversibilities are due to friction and heat transfer across finite temperature differences
within the cycle. Irreversibilities within the cycle will thus include; machine inefficiencies,
pressure losses in pipes due to skin friction, turbulence within the compressors and
turbines, heat exchanger temperature differences, temperature limitations, and those due to
real fluid properties. The efficiency and ultimate feasibility of the precooled engine concept
thus relies heavily on the ability to reduce the total entropy generation of the system. The
respective enthalpy and entropy balances between the air and hydrogen streams for the
open isolated system shown in Fig. 7 are:

𝑚̇ ℎ
ℎ𝑎 𝑓 − ℎ𝑎 𝑖 = (ℎ − ℎℎ 𝑖 ) (4)
𝑚̇𝑎 ℎ 𝑓

And
𝑠𝑔𝑒𝑛 𝑚̇ℎ
= 𝑠𝑎 𝑓 − 𝑠𝑎 𝑖 + (𝑠 − 𝑠ℎ 𝑖 ) (5)
𝑚̇𝑎 𝑚̇𝑎 ℎ𝑓

where, Sgen, is the entropy increase of the isolated system due to irreversibilities . In order
to gain maximum work from the cycle the outlet temperatures for the air and hydrogen
must be equal, otherwise a further heat engine could be added across the outlets. The
overall entropy generated must be positive or equal to zero for the engine cycle to obey the
laws of thermodynamics, and the minimum fuel/air ratio is thus achieved when the entropy
increase is zero. Using Equations (4) and (5), and referring to the hydrogen and air inlet
conditions, as defined in Fig. 1 and in the LACE performance calculation, we can
determine the fuel/air ratio for a given value of cycle entropy generation. For an isentropic
cycle Sgen = 0, and assuming the air must be compressed to 200 bar for combustion at 150
bar, this corresponds to outlet temperatures of 896 K and a fuel/air ratio of 0.0293. This is
approximately an equivalence ratio of 1. Thus by using the heat available to drive the cycle
and balancing the entropy fall of the air with the entropy rise of the hydrogen stream we
can obtain a very high performance engine cycle.

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

CHAPTER 4
RESULT ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSIONS

4.1 PERFORMANCE COMPARISON


Table 1 gives a comparison of the analyzed LACE and SABRE performance
characteristics. A real SABRE engine will of course be non-isentropic and entropy will
increase as a result of irreversibilities in the cycle, corresponding to an increase in the
required fuel flow or reduction in achievable pressure ratio. Hence a comparison is also
made with a real SABRE cycle model where the turbo machinery, combustor, heat
exchangers and air inlet performance are analyzed using Reaction Engine’s software. For
the combustion performance a NASA code for equilibrium combustion by McBride, Reno
and Gordon is used. It should be noted that for the LACE engine the hydrogen exiting the
air liquefier is cool enough (approx. 480 K) to be used for combustion chamber and jacket
cooling, and this will slightly reduce the fuel/air ratio quoted in Table 1. In the real (non
isentropic) SABRE engine the compressed air outlet temperature must be limited to 700 K
and the hydrogen to 876 K so that the respective nozzle jacket cooling and film cooling of
the combustion chamber can be implemented in air-breathing mode. This factor is included
in the quoted performance for the real SABRE cycle. For each case the intake momentum
drag is evaluated in order to provide the net specific impulse. As shown in Table 1, even
the quoted non-isentropic SABRE cycle performance in air-breathing mode is a substantial
improvement over the LACE engine cycle. The difference between the current SABRE
performance status and the isentropic case illustrates the scope in further improving the
engine performance by reducing the irreversibilities of the engine cycle

LACE SABRE SABRE


(Isentropic) (Non-Isentropic)
Hydrogen/Air 0.205 0.0293 0.0818
Equivalence Ratio 7 1 2.8
Chamber Pressure, bar 150 150 103
Net Isp (s) 990 5145 1838
TABLE 1: Precooled Air-Breathing Engine Performance
Characteristics for Flight Condition Mach = 5, EAS = 600 kts and a
Pressure Recovery Factor of 0.3.

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

4.2 SABRE PERFORMANCE

RE Engineers designed SABRE engine with Thrust to weight ratio (TWR) of 14, a
higher value than jet engines with TWR of 5 and 2 for scramjet engines, by virtue of the
combination of number of properties of SABRE engine – denser and cooled air require less
compression, and low air temperature allows the use of lighter alloys in engine. Specific
impulse for SABRE engine achieves as high as 3500 seconds within earth’s atmosphere, is
a great performance compared to other rocket propulsion system which is succeed to attend
around 450 seconds only and for nuclear thermal rockets about 900 seconds . The grouping
of above discussed properties that is high fuel efficiency with lightweight engine allows an
aerospace vehicle for SSTO approach with air breathing mode up-to altitude of 17.709
miles and Mach 5.14. As well as to increase payload than just than any other existing non-
nuclear launch vehicle makes it to breakthrough once again in propulsion system after
invention of jet engines. The precooler concept, like introduced in RB545 engine,
integrates mass and complexity to the system and most threatening and complex design
part. After performing several experiments, SABERE team of RE succeeded invent a
device with heat transfer of almost 1 GW/m3 , believed as world record . The losses comes
into account due to auxiliary weight of systems which has stopped working during rocket
mode or close cycle mode and the extra weight of Skylon’s wings negate the earning in
overall efficiency and desired flight plan. State of art launch vehicles devote about one
minute for almost vertical climb at relatively low speed, which is inefficient but optimal for
traditional launch vehicles. Whereas SABRE engine allows an launching vehicle to climb
much slower and shallower in air breathing mode with supporting wings but with far lower
fuel consumption, results in saving on propellant weight and increment in payload mass.
The conventional Ramjets and Scramjets must devote significant time in earth’s
atmosphere to gain enough speed to reach orbital velocity devoting concerns with
exceptionally high drag resulting to intense heating and ensuing weight and complexity of
required thermal shield. An aerospace vehicle with hybrid jet, like Skylon with SABRE
engine, gains low hypersonic speed in Earth’s atmosphere before engaging in rocket mode
for whist climbing to achieve higher hypersonic accelerating speed. Moreover, the potential
of providing high thrust with speed from 0 to Mach 5.5 with outstanding thrust over the
entire flight from ground to very high altitude but efficiently makes SABRE engine as a
dominant solution for launching vehicles over the up to date launching vehicles

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSIONS

Such kind of engine could become the future of aviation and space industry, which may
ease many missions from earth’s surface to space. Further modification in this engine may
lead not only to orbit but also far away from that. Such Engine could make possible space
tourism for people belongs to any community. This is a revolution for the upcoming era.
By designing the engine from a thermodynamic point of view, and minimising the entropy
generation within the cycle, the SABRE has been able to make a far more efficient split
between the cooling and work demands on the engine cycle. In terms of performance this
has achieved almost double the net specific impulse of the LACE. Further advances in
performance are possible if the entropy generation within the current SABRE cycle can be
further reduced.
The largest source of irreversibility within the SABRE cycle (upstream of the
combustion chamber) is that due to heat transfer through the precooler. Analysis has shown
that these irreversibilities can be reduced if means can be found to moderately increase the
heat transfer coefficient on the air side of the precooler. This has the potential to increase
the payload capability of the Skylon SSTO reusuable launch vehicle by a further tonne.
This attractive prospect has inspired a research progamme that is focused on enhancing the
air side heat transfer of the SABRE precooler by several possible means. This programme
will be the subject of future publications.

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SYNERGISTIC AIR-BREATHING ROCKET ENGINES

REFERENCE

 Rupesh Aggarwal, Khushin Lakhara, Prof. (Dr.) P.B. Sharma, Tocky Darang,
Naman Jain ,Siddharth Gangly,” SABRE ENGINE: Single Stage to Orbit Rocket
Engine”, IJIRSET, Vol. 4, Issue 10, 2015
 Helen Webber, Alan Bond, Mark Hempsell, “The sensitivity of precooled Air-
Breathing Engine Performance To Heat Exchanger Design Parameters”, JBIS,
Vol. 60, pp.188-196, 2007
 Richard Varvill, Alan Bond, “The Skylon Spaceplane: Progress To Realisation”,
JBIS, Vol. 61, pp. 412-418, 2008

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