This rocket nozzle was developed between 1988-1996 and was the first stage rocket engine in Ariane 5 . Its last flight was in 2009, after that it was replaced by a Vulcain 2 nozzle. The goal is that by 2020 it should be replaced by Vulcain 2.1 that has a new nozzle – SWAN – built by GKN. Vulcain 2.1, with the SWAN nozzle, will be the first stage rocket engine for Ariane 6 .
KTH research project: MEthane in Rocket nozzle cooling channels - conjugate heat Transfer measurements (MERiT)
A future propulsion system using hydrocarbons, liquid or hybrid, is a grand challenge for today’s rocket and space propulsion systems. Methane as a fuel have good performance indicators such as reasonably good specific thrust (~380 s), good storage stability, cooling capabilities and availability, and low toxicity and production cost. For the rocket nozzle the challenges, compared to hydrogen can be attributed to deposits in cooling channels due to fuel impurities or cooking from thermal cracking of methane, which lead to a degrade of the heat transfer capabilities and pressure losses. It is of utter importance for future nozzle designs to quantify the heat transfer characteristics of typical Nickel-based alloy steels used. The objectives with the investigations are, for the alloy steel Nitronic 40 (21-6-9) in typical channel geometries and operating conditions to determine: heat transfer coefficient (HTC), degree of coking and corrosion and pressure loss as a function of supplied heat load, wall temperature, Reynolds number, fuel composition (grade A and C) and pressure level.
The KTH project is partly funded by the Swedish Space Agency and partly by ESA through the Future Launch Preparatory Program (FLPP)