MIRAGE : first step towards the implementation of the MIRAGE laboratory, aiming scientific and applied research with Methane or LNG as working fluid
The usage of liquid Methane as space fuel surely introduces new challenges and possibly critical aspects that must be considered for the proper functioning of the new generation propulsion systems.
To answers such coming needs, the von Karman Institute (VKI) is highly motivated to extend its cryogenic research capabilities to studies dealing with the real space green fuel candidate.
The present MIRAGE ESA De-Risk GSTP activity constitutes the first step towards the implementation of the MIRAGE laboratory, aiming scientific and applied research with Methane or LNG as working fluid.
The Market Survey assessed that space-related applications are the most requested potential activities. The installation working ranges were defined accordingly.
The Safety Analysis concluded that up to 10.000 L of LNG/LCH4 can be stored and used at the VKI site. For larger storages, additional studies may become necessary.
The closed-loop Process Flow Diagram, Instruments, Equipment were defined. The LN2 based re-liquefaction technology is chosen as it offers a lower CAPEX and higher OPEX. The latter not being a real issue as the number of tests will be quite low compared to a continuous operation.
The MIRAGE Test Section concept was also designed in compliance with risk and safety measures. The measurement module targets an exemplary experimental investigation of flow boiling in small channels.
Laboratory experiments aimed to anticipate, consequently, some of the challenges that occur during the application of the Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF) to such layouts. Spectroscopy-based parametric investigations were first thoroughly performed to properly configure and approach the dual-cameras PLIF measurements. This task constitutes a fundamental building block towards optical methods challenges in cryogenic flammable fluids, in presence of wall-confined temperature gradients and small spatial scale.
Finally, the budgetary and timing evaluations were also addressed for the follow-on detailed engineering, procurement and construction of the MIRAGE installation, including commissioning.
VKI Team (alphabetic order): Jean-Baptiste Gouriet, Laura Peveroni, Maria Teresa Scelzo, Peter Simkens, VKI-Facilities & Test Setups team
Tractebel Engie Team (alphabetic order): Hans Borremans, Damien Seys, Christian Zech