The Sensitivity of Precooled Air-Breathing Engine Performance to Heat Exchanger Design Parameters

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H. Webber; A. Bond; M. Hempsell (2007), JBIS, 60, 188-196

Refcode: 2007.60.188
Keywords: Precooled air-breathing engine, heat exchanger, LACE, SABRE, Skylon, SSTO.

The issues relevant to propulsion design for Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) vehicles are considered. In particular two air- breathing engine concepts involving precooling are compared; SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing and Rocket Engine) as designed for the Skylon SSTO launch vehicle, and a LACE (Liquid Air Cycle Engine) considered in the 1960's by the Americans for an early generation spaceplane. It is shown that through entropy minimisation the SABRE has made substantial gains in performance over the traditional LACE precooled engine concept, and has shown itself as the basis of a viable means of realising a SSTO vehicle. Further, it is demonstrated that the precooler is a major source of thermodynamic irreversibility within the engine cycle and that further reduction in entropy can be realised by increasing the heat transfer coefficient on the air side of the precooler. If this were to be achieved, it would improve the payload mass delivered to orbit by the Skylon launch vehicle by between 5 and 10%.

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