Experimental and numerical investigation of swirling H2O2 and polypropylene hybrid rocket motor with regenerative cooling

M. C. Li, S. S. Wei, C. H. Hung, J. S. Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In this paper, the experimental and numerical investigations of both swirling hybrid rocket motors without and with the design of regenerative cooling (RC hereafter), using 90%-wt H2O2 and polypropylene (PP) as the liquid oxidizer and the solid fuel, respectively, were performed and compared. We implemented a new design of regenerative cooling using the oxidizer to transfer the heat generated from combustion. A series of ground horizontal hot-fire tests, which include the catalytic-bed only and the motor without/with RC were performed to measure the propulsion performance related parameters. The resulting C* efficiency of the RC design with catalytic-bed only remained in comparison with the one without RC. With a similar initial combustion chamber geometry, the RC implementation resulted in a better engine Isp efficiency from 96.3 to 98.6 with a lower O/F ratio from 6.49 to 5.94. In addition, the topologies of the burned fuel grain surface were optically measured by a 3D laser scanner. The resulting variation of regression rates between the upstream and downstream fuel for the chamber with the RC was smaller than case without the RC. Moreover, a simplified semi-empirical computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model based on the measured regression rates was constructed for investigating the physical phenomenon inside the hybrid rocket combustion chamber. The simulations show that a higher swirling number in the later portion of the port was found for the RC case. By concerning about the different O/F ratios and port size of the burned fuel, a series of simplified numerical CFD investigation with a fixed O/F and a fixed port size varying the regression rates from upstream to downstream fuel systematically with the same average region rate was performed to complement the semi-empirical CFD simulations. The results showed that there were two distinct regions including an upstream non-classical region dominated by the gas impingement of gas and a downstream classical region caused by the swirling effect of gases. In the non-classical region, the calculated distributions of the swirling numbers of the former are essentially the same for all the cases no matter what the magnitude of the regression rate is, while in the classical region higher swirling numbers are found for the case of more uniform distribution of regression rates. Heat generated near the upstream of the fuel grain was transferred more efficiently through the design of RC, which makes the resulting fuel regression more uniform than that without RC. The resulting swirling efficiency in the RC case was higher than that without RC. The HRM with RC hence had a better engine Isp efficiency with a lower O/F ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-298
Number of pages16
JournalActa Astronautica
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • 3D scanning
  • Hybrid rocket
  • Regenerative cooling
  • Regression rate
  • Swirling injection


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