Closed Cycle Propulsion for Small Unmanned Aircraft

by Thomas Chadwick Hays

Institution: Oklahoma State University
Year: 2015
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2132874
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11244/45264


This study evaluates the merit of closed cycle propulsion systems for use in unmanned systems. The complexity and added weight of closed cycle engines is offset by benefits in high altitude performance, operation in polluted air environments, multi-fuel operation, and potential for flight in low oxygen environments using generic thermal heat sources. Although most closed thermal cycles cannot match the efficiency and power density potential of internal combustion engines (ICE) and turbomachines in aircraft propulsion applications, the addition of design requirements regarding noise output, and operation at high altitude results in IC and CC engine�s performance becoming much more comparable. Muffling devices increase backpressure on internal combustion engines thereby reducing power output and efficiency. Multi stage turbo supercharging for operation at high altitude can in some cases increase efficiency of ICE�s, but at the result of significant additional complexity and cost that also reduces practical reliability because of the often intricate mechanisms involved. It is in these scenarios that closed cycle engines offer a comparable performance alternative that may prove to be simpler, cheaper, and more reliable than high altitude or low noise internal combustion or turbomachine propulsion systems. Advisors/Committee Members: Arena, Andrew S. (advisor), Fisher, Daniel (committee member), Jacob, Jamey D. (committee member), Gaeta, Richard J. (committee member), Rhinehart, Russel (committee member).