There are plenty of rocket experimenters toying with various liquid-fueled contraptions at the moment, and [Sciencish] is one of them. He grew tired of using air-pressurized fuel delivery systems in his experiments due to safety reasons, and decided to create something approximating more grown up rocket designs. The result was a 3D-printed turbopump for fuel delivery.
The design is not dissimilar from a turbocharger in a car. On one side, a turbine wheel is turned by compressed air supplied from a tank or compressor. This turbine wheel is affixed to the same axle as an impeller which draws up fuel and pumps it out, ideally into a rocket’s combustion chamber. It’s all made out of resin-printed parts, which made creating the fine geometry of the turbine and impeller a cinch.
Running on compressed air at 80 psi, the turbopump is able to deliver 1.36L of water or rubbing alcohol fuel a minute. However, unfortunately, this first pass design can only deliver 20 psi of fuel pressure, which [Sciencish] suspects will not be enough to counteract combustion chamber pressures in his rocket design. More work is required to up this figure. Paired with a nozzle and ignition source, though, and it does make for some great flames.
Overall though, the safety benefit of this turbopump comes from the fact that the fuel is kept separate from the oxidizer until it reaches the combustion chamber. This comes with far less chance of fire or explosion versus a system that stores fuel pressurized by air.
While the design isn’t yet up to scratch for rocket use, it nonetheless works, and we suspect with some improvement to tolerances and fin design that the project should move along at a quick pace.
If solid rockets are more your thing though, we’ve featured plenty of those too. Video after the break.
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