Development of a Liquid Oxygen Facility for Rocket Engine Testing

    Published: Nov 2012

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    The Propulsion Research Center at the University of Alabama Huntsville has developed a liquid oxygen propellant feed system that has advanced into operational maturity. In support of safe system functional development, an oxygen compatibility and hazards assessment was completed in order to identify and minimize operational risks. The objective of this effort was to minimize potential risks that might have been overlooked in the initial design phase or resulted from a discontinuity between design and fabrication. The effort involved an internal review of the operating procedures and the system configuration, as well as an overall review by an oxygen safety engineering consultant. This paper outlines the review procedures applied to the oxygen propellant systems, summarizes the significant findings, and details configuration changes made to the system. The review process identified several areas in which reliance on procedural control, without compromising safe system operation, could be reduced or removed through design changes. Such changes were implemented so as to create a more fault tolerant system and minimize risks to test equipment, system hardware, and test personnel. Major upgrades included initiatives to manage the oxygen risk and mitigate specific oxygen ignition mechanisms. Oxygen compatible materials and facility configuration changes enabled safer experimentation in the demonstration testing of the cryogenic propellant facility. The findings presented in this paper represent the system changes made in an effort to increase safety and decrease the risk of fire in order to achieve a low probability of ignition and a low consequence of ignition.


    liquid oxygen, liquid rocket engine testing, university of alabama huntsville propulsion research center, propulsion testing facility, oxygen hazards

    Author Information:

    Mulkey, H. W.
    Research Assistant, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Propulsion Research Center, University of Alabama Huntsville, Huntsville, AL

    Lineberry, D. M.
    Research Engineer, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Propulsion Research Center, University of Alabama Huntsville, Huntsville, AL

    Committee/Subcommittee: G04.01

    DOI: 10.1520/STP20120003

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