The Brillance of Ingenuity

CFDRC wins Air Force contract to develop and validate surface coking models for liquid rocket engines

Huntsville, Ala. | September, 22, 2016 – CFD Research Corporation has won a $750k contract from the Air Force to further develop and validate models for surface coking in fuel film cooled liquid rocket engines.

Designing an efficient and effective film cooling system to protect critical components of modern rocket engines requires a significant number of problems and challenges to be addressed. Complicating the already difficult hydrodynamic challenges are the fact that thermal and/or catalytic cracking of hydrocarbon fuels is always accompanied with coke formation. Coke deposits on the combustor and nozzle walls reduce heat fluxes and can have detrimental effects on regenerative heating of the fuel flowing through the outer channels.

In prior work, the team of CFDRC, led by Dr. Ranjan Mehta, Prof. Timothee Pourpoint of Purdue University, and Dr. Hai Wang of Stanford University demonstrated the feasibility of developing such models. In this follow on project, the team will complete the development and implementation of predictive coke deposition models and conduct targeted experiments to isolate effects of different aspects of coke deposition. These efforts will provide improved understanding of coke formation and validate and calibrate coke deposition models against test data. The results will quantify measurement and prediction uncertainties and identify error bounds associated with heat transfer prediction, and the team will integrate the developed surface coking models with 3-D CFD codes used by the Air Force for liquid rocket engine analysis.

(A). Experiment design and fabrication (B) Testing in an optically accessible combustor (C) Model development based on first-principles  (D) Encouraging agreement between Model Predictions and Measurement of coke deposition on a fuel film cooled plate

About CFD Research Corporation: Since its inception in 1987, CFDRC has worked with government agencies, businesses and academia to provide innovative solutions within the Aerospace & Defense, Biomedical & Life Sciences, and Energy & Materials industries. Over the years CFDRC has earned multiple national awards for successful application and commercialization of innovative component/system technology prototypes, multi-physics simulation software and multi-disciplinary analyses. Learn more at

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