CHARACTERIZING DISSOLVED GASES IN CRYOGENIC LIQUID FUELS
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Pressure-Density-Temperature-Composition (PρT-x) measurements of cryogenic fuel mixtures are a historical challenge due to the difficulties of maintaining cryogenic temperatures and precision isolation of a mixture sample. For decades NASA has used helium to pressurize liquid hydrogen propellant tanks to maintain tank pressure and reduce boil off. This process causes helium gas to dissolve into liquid hydrogen creating a cryogenic mixture with thermodynamic properties that vary from pure liquid hydrogen. This can lead to inefficiencies in fuel storage and instabilities in fluid flow. As NASA plans for longer missions to Mars and beyond, small inefficiencies such as dissolved helium in liquid propellant become significant. Traditional NASA models are unable to account for dissolved helium due to a lack of fundamental property measurements necessary for the development of a mixture Equation Of State (EOS). The first PρT-x measurements of helium-hydrogen mixtures using a retrofitted single-sinker densimeter, magnetic suspension microbalance, and calibrated gas chromatograph are presented in this research. These measurements were used to develop the first multi-phase EOS for helium-hydrogen mixtures which was implemented into NASA’s Generalized Fluid System Simulation Program (GFSSP) to determine the significance of mixture non-idealities. It was revealed that having dissolved helium in the propellant does not have a significant effect on the tank pressurization rate but does affect the rate at which the propellant temperature rises. PρT-x measurements are conducted on methane-ethane mixtures with dissolved nitrogen gas to simulate the conditions of the hydrocarbon seas of Saturn’s moon Titan. Titan is the only known celestial body in the solar system besides Earth with stable liquid seas accessible on the surface. The PρT-x measurements are used to develop solubility models to aid in the design of the Titan Submarine. NASA is currently designing the submarine to explore the depths of Titan’s methane-ethane seas to study the evolution of hydrocarbons in the universe and provide a pathfinder for future submersible designs. In addition, effervescence and freezing liquid line measurements on various liquid methane-ethane compositions with dissolved gaseous nitrogen are presented from 1.5 bar to 4.5 bar and temperatures from 92 K to 96 K to improve simulations of the conditions of the seas. These measurements will be used to validate sea property and bubble incipience models for the Titan Submarine design.