A Flow-Channel Analysis for the Mars Hopper

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The Mars Hopper is an exploratory vehicle designed to fly on Mars using carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere as a rocket propellant. The propellent gasses are thermally heated while traversing a radioisotope ther- mal rocket (RTR) engine’s core. This core is comprised of a radioisotope surrounded by a heat capacitive material interspersed with tubes for the propellant to travel through. These tubes, or flow channels, can be manu- factured in various cross-sectional shapes such as a special four-point star or the traditional circle. Analytical heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) anal- yses were performed using flow channels with ... continued below

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Cooley, W. Spencer February 1, 2013.

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The Mars Hopper is an exploratory vehicle designed to fly on Mars using carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere as a rocket propellant. The propellent gasses are thermally heated while traversing a radioisotope ther- mal rocket (RTR) engine’s core. This core is comprised of a radioisotope surrounded by a heat capacitive material interspersed with tubes for the propellant to travel through. These tubes, or flow channels, can be manu- factured in various cross-sectional shapes such as a special four-point star or the traditional circle. Analytical heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) anal- yses were performed using flow channels with either a circle or a star cross- sectional shape. The nominal total inlet pressure was specified at 2,805,000 Pa; and the outlet pressure was set to 2,785,000 Pa. The CO2 inlet tem- perature was 300 K; and the channel wall was 1200 K. The steady-state CFD simulations computed the smooth-walled star shape’s outlet temper- ature to be 959 K on the finest mesh. The smooth-walled circle’s outlet temperature was 902 K. A circle with a surface roughness specification at 0.01 mm gave 946 K and at 0.1 mm yielded 989 K. The The effects of a slightly varied inlet pressure were also examined. The analytical calculations were based on the mass flow rates computed in the CFD simulations and provided significantly higher outlet temperature results while displaying the same comparison trends. Research relating to the flow channel heat transfer studies was also done. Mathematical methods to geometrically match the cross-sectional areas of the circle and star, along with a square and equilateral triangle, were derived. A Wolfram Mathematica 8 module was programmed to analyze CFD results using Richardson Extrapolation and calculate the grid convergence index (GCI). A Mathematica notebook, also composed, computes and graphs the bulk mean temperature along a flow channel’s length while the user dynam- ically provides the input variables, allowing their effects on the temperature to be more easily observed.

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  • Report No.: INL/EXT-12-26502
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1097131
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc843809

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • February 1, 2013

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Dec. 7, 2016, 11:44 a.m.

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Cooley, W. Spencer. A Flow-Channel Analysis for the Mars Hopper, book, February 1, 2013; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc843809/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.