Naga Sree Sumanvitha Vommina


Presentation: 9:00-10:15 a.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom



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The main objective of this project is to investigate the performance of various Phase Change Materials as the Heat Exchange media in a solar thermal propulsion system. The secondary objective is to visualize and develop the solar thermal propulsion system by running various ground tests using a solar simulator as power source. In this system, the energy from solar light is concentrated into a small cavity through a parabolic reflector and is used to heat the PCM, which in turn heats the propellant and directs it through the nozzle to provide thrust adequate to travel in space. The prototype of the system is first designed using a CAD software and later fabricated into a bench scale model. The model is then set up in the laboratory and connected to the solar simulator. Tests will be conducted with various PCM’s to analyze the best suitable one for this system, i.e., the PCM that gives the best heat transfer from the cavity to the propellant while having a great heat storage capacity. Parameters which would be measured to analyze the same include the Melting point, latent heat of fusion, temperatures of propellant, etc.The project involves design, modelling and fabrication of a bench scale Solar Thermal Ferry that can be used to carry and deliver satellites to Moon or Mars’ orbit from LEO. PCM’s are essential for space travel since the solar energy needs to be stored for the spacecraft to successfully complete the interplanetary missions which consume time and fuel. Without the energy storage system, the spacecraft might need to use conventional fuel ignition systems, which cost money to manufacture and implement in the spacecraft. Moreover, this propulsion system is revolutionary since its only power source is the Sun, which can be simulated by the state-of-the-art solar simulator at the University of Dayton’s Thermodynamics lab.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Rydge Mulford, Andrew Schrader

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium, School of Engineering

Experimental Investigation of Phase Change Materials in Solar Thermal Propulsion System