A Magnetohydrodynamic Power Panel for Space Reentry Vehicles

[+] Author and Article Information
Craig A. Steeves, Richard B. Miles

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,  Princeton University, Engineering Quad, Olden Street, Princeton, NJ 08544

Haydn N. G. Wadley

Department of Materials Science and Engineering,  University of Virginia, 116 Engineer’s Way, P.O. Box 499745, Charlottesville, VA 22904

Anthony G. Evans

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of California, Engineering II, Room 2361A, Santa Barbara, CA 93106

Calculations by Candler (22) indicate that the total heating rate on the vehicle surface is approximately in equilibrium with radiative cooling and heat flux into the vehicle when the surface temperature is 1500K.

J. Appl. Mech 74(1), 57-64 (Jan 06, 2006) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2178360 History: Received December 10, 2004; Revised January 06, 2006

During reentry from space, a layer of high temperature air (>3000K) is formed extending tens of centimeters from the surface of the vehicle, well out into the high speed flow regime. Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) can then be used to generate power by projecting magnetic fields outside the vehicle into the conducting air stream and collecting the resulting current. Here, we analyze a multifunctional MHD panel which generates the requisite magnetic fields, protects the vehicle from high temperatures, and is structurally stiff and strong. The analysis shows that a magnetic system weighing approximately 110kg can generate 0.6MW of power for 1000s.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Relative directions of flow, magnetic field, and generated current

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Figure 2

Mass of truss-core panels as a function of load capacity, compared to solid beams

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Figure 3

Ragone plot for various power sources for a reentry vehicle including the proposed MHD device

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Figure 4

Array of rectangular solenoids contained in a multifunctional truss-core sandwich structure

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Figure 5

Comparison of assumed and calculated conductivity and velocity profiles with distance from vehicle surface

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Figure 6

Typical FEMLAB calculated result showing magnetic flux density (T) (with bar to the left) and a representative set of magnetic field lines. This configuration is for a solenoid with current density J0=15MA∕m2, of thickness h=0.02m, arm width b=0.12m, and solenoid half-width w=0.3m. Note that the magnetic flux density in the back plate is very high, while the magnetic flux density in the vehicle in negligible.

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Figure 7

The locus of optimal designs in (mtot,Pnet) space, showing the construct to obtain the maximum net power density. The maximum net power density is found when a ray from the origin is tangent to the locus.

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Figure 8

Net power generation versus total mass at constant TBC thickness tTBC=2.5mm for varying TBC thermal conductivity

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Figure 9

Net power density as a function of net power for constant TBC thermal conductivity k=0.5W∕mK and varying TBC thickness

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Figure 10

Maximum net power density as a function of TBC thermal conductivity for varying TBC thickness

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Figure 11

Variation of net power generation with the cooling system mass coefficient ϵ




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