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The 2012-2013 Project

Testing and Performance Evaluation of a Biohybrid-Fueled Ramjet Engine through Rocket Flight

Vanderbilt Payloads have had a distinct feature of combining low altitude rocketry and engineering experiments that can have potential widespread Aerospace implications within the context of contemporary societal issues. This year, the Team wanted to expand on said societal issue of energy availability; in particular, the Team looked at renewable and non-renewable sources as it pertains to the future of airplane flight and aerospace propulsion. This is currently such a debated issue in the aeronautical and aerospace industries that it seemed important to do due diligence on the issue. Many airlines have started to test/examine the suitability of bio-fuels for combustion in jet engines and airplane flight. In USLI-12 the Vanderbilt Aerospace Team conducted a performance evaluation of a subsonic ramjet engine using rocket flight. The results of the experiment proved that rocket flight can serve as an inexpensive test bed in flight testing of air-breathing engines. For USLI-13 the Vanderbilt Aerospace Team wants to go further and test the performance of a ramjet engine running on bio-hybrid fuels. The Team will reexamine the design of the ramjet engine and study different fuel injection strategies. From there, the Team will work to optimize the flame holder design for burning a 50:50 mixture of kerosene and biodiesel, or various suitable combinations thereof.