MIT AeroAstro | Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Analysis of Fuel Sloshing and Controls of In-Space Wax Propulsion System
- Aeronautics and Astronautics
Wax propulsion has the opportunity to be a significant green, non-toxic, and low-cost fuel used as a deorbit thruster in space, which can be used to deorbit satellite debris. In order for wax propulsion to come to fruition, research is being completed on the feasibility of generating wax fuel grains in space, since the prospect of on-earth manufacturing and launch to space will likely be too fragile. The accepted method of wax fuel grain generation is called centrifugal casting, where chunks of wax are melted to liquid state, spun up in a tube, and cooled down in an annulus configuration. The work will focus on modeling the controls required for this process. The work will analyze the reaction wheel supports required for successful performance of centrifugal casting on a LEO satellite that is released from the International Space Station. The goal of the research is to perform an analysis of liquid sloshing on melted wax undergoing centrifugal casting, create and test the hardware required for the analysis of a preliminary wax system on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Small Satellite Dynamics Testbed, and conduct an optimization of sizing and material selection for the satellite based on propulsion and control parameters.
I am participating in the SuperUROP program because I love the research process. It is intriguing how engineering research can contribute to a real product in the future. I have been working with the Space Enabled Research Group at MIT Media Lab since my first year at MIT, and I wanted the opportunity to contribute to a significant portion of research for wax propulsion. To be able to conduct spacecraft dynamics and controls research in an environment where I can learn more about proper research is exciting and engaging.