Michael G. Morales, Student, United States Naval Academy
The evolution of Additive Manufacturing over the past 30 years has given engineers the ability to manufacture parts from designs that could not have been conceived before its inception. This evolution has greatly affected the capabilities and expanded the rocket propulsion industry. Researchers at the United States Naval Academy sought to develop the concepts and theory necessary to design and manufacture a fuel grain-injector combination capable of increasing overall thrust and regression rate, while reducing instability in hybrid rocket motors. The design must also be created to conform to additive manufacturing capabilities, and these design considerations will be discussed. In order to further analyze the performance of the hybrid rocket motor, researchers cultivated a new, solid fuel geometry in order to increase the area of the exposed surfaces while also positively affecting the flow of the liquid fuel in order to improve burn performance. A unique, helical grain was created requiring the use of additive manufacturing. Computational fluid dynamics analysis, cold flow, and design parameters, along with material characterization and part qualification of both the injector and grain, will also be explained to support the conclusion that additive manufacturing is able to greatly improve hybrid rocket motor performance.