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Operation 31: Thermodynamic control of cryogenic propellant tank

Author: Jean-Paul Thibault

Future operations in space exploration will require the ability to store cryogenic liquids (hydrogen and oxygen) for long duration. Residual heat loads due to sun or heat conduction in the launcher structure induce cryogenic propellant vaporization and tank self-pressurization. Due to the extended duration of the mission, propellant management or control is required to avoid storage failure. One option to keep the tank pressure below breakup, is to withdrawn a fraction of liquid propellant to cool it and inject it into the "ullage" vapor and liquid bath. This control mode is known as "Thermodynamic Vent Systems" (TVS).

Injection of a full-jet and associated temperature field

Thanks to an original active heat insulation method, experiments performed with a simulant fluid (which vaporizes at 50 °C at atmospheric pressure) permit to measure the fluid vertical temperature distribution (vapor and liquid). The figure shows the injection of a full-jet and the associated temperature field. These measurements are compared to our simulation models and allow their validation.

As part of this research, a Ph.D thesis granted by CNES is open for application.