Advanced Propellants and Combustion Laboratory (APCL)

Test stand in Test Cell B Test stand in Test Cell A The Advanced Propellants and Combustion Laboratory, located in the Gas Dynamics Building of the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, houses two control rooms (virtual tour) and three test cells for jet, rocket, and propellant development. Test fires are conducted and observed from the control room via a LabVIEW virtual interface program, which operates the valves and acquires instrumentation data, and video monitors.

Students involved with class or sponsored research projects at APCL have designed and assembled engine hardware, modified or improved the testing capabilities as needed, performed test fires, and analyzed data. APCL has conducted test fires and experiments for several companies and organizations including Aerojet, Air Force Research Labs, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Boeing, NASA Dryden, NASA Marshall, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royace/AADC, and TRW/Northrop Grumman.
  • Focuses on rocket, jet, and propellant development
  • 16-bit National Instruments data / control system
    • 96 pressure / load / heat flux / voltage channels
    • 32 thermocouple channels
    • millisecond resolution valve actuation
  • Thrust capabilities up to 1000 lbf
  • Control room
  • Propellant flow rates up to 2.5 lbm/sec
  • Three 144 ft2 test cells
  • 8'' reinforced concrete test cell walls
  • Storable oxidizers propellants
  • Flow circuits utilize ½ inch pneumatically actuated ball valves
  • Computer controlled valves are actuated using 100 psi regulated helium
  • Ullage pressurant is controlled by hand-loaded regulators supplied by 6,000 psi K-bottles
  • Nitrogen purges are present for the oxidizer and fuel systems
  • Force measurement system utilizing plate flexures and a single load cell can provide up to 1000 lbf axial thrust measurement
  • Configurable for horizontal or vertical testing

Cell A Virtual Tour

Test Cell A is the 1000 lbf thrust test stand primarily used for testing bipropellant and monopropellant liquid rocket engines and hybrid rocket motors that use storable oxidizers such as hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl ammonium nitrate.
    Hybrid rocket test firing
  • Two 4 gallon, 1,800 psi storable oxidizer tanks
  • One 1 and one 4 gallon, 1,800 psi hydrocarbon based fuel tanks
  • Pressures up to 1,800 psi

Cell B Virtual Tour

Test Cell B has been used for special-requirement projects such as hybrid rocket motors using gaseous oxygen as the oxidizer, hypergolic ignition of propellants in a thruster at vacuum conditions, and torch igniting a hydrogen peroxide and kerosene engine.
  • One 500 mL (or 2.5 L) storable oxidizer tank
  • One 300 mL hydrocarbon based fuel tank
  • Pressures up to 5,000 psi

Cell C

Aerial photograph of APCL Test Cell C is currently being renovated to conduct high mach jet and rocket heat transfer experiments. Test stand equipment is currently being fabricated and assembled. Experiments are expected to commence in the Fall of 2003.

Additional Pictures