Advancement of Additive Manufacturing for Monopropellant Catalyst Beds
Monolithic catalyst beds have been used extensively in other industries and are gaining interest for space propulsion applications. Additive manufacturing of monolithic supports allows for catalyst beds with a wider range of geometries than could be produced using conventional methods, potentially allowing for higher performance monoliths that can compete with conventional packed beds in performance. Achieving these gains requires a consistent, even, and well-adhering washcoating procedure for the additively manufactured supports, one which works well on varied geometry and on support materials that can be readily printed. I conducted an extensive development process on improving methods of surface preparation and coating for high temperature ceramic monoliths that resulted in improvements in the state of the art. The materials and methods used are appropriate for rocket grade hydrogen peroxide, hydrazine, or other monopropellants with similar operating temperatures. Using existing published coating methods resulted in uneven coating distribution and poor adhesion. I demonstrate that this was due to the substrate surface morphology producing a hydrophobic effect. Surface morphology plays a significant role in coating coverage and adhesion and differences in initial support surfaces likely account for much of the variation in results seen across the literature. I present a method of controlled thermochemical surface etching using pure sodium hydroxide at 420°C that can reliably produce a roughened hydrophilic surface from a variety of starting morphologies. I also present several modifications to the primer formulation that improve evenness of coverage, the most significant of which is the inclusion of a surfactant at a concentration of 1 g per 36 g water. The surface treatment and coating formulation improvements combine well and produce an even coating with strong adhesion to the substrate. I also conducted preliminary work on the investigation of novel geometric designs for monolithic catalyst beds, and on the reactivity of different transition metal oxide catalysts for rocket grade hydrogen peroxide decomposition.
NASA NSTGRO Fellowship
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Aeronautics and Astronautics
- West Lafayette