Methane propulsion for space rockets applications is different from methane-air combustion where products are diluted by nitrogen which is about 80% of air. In this case, methane is mixed with pure oxygen and the relative combustion is also known as oxycombustion. Temperatures obtained in oxycombustion are higher than for combustion in air. Moreover, in space propulsion with pure oxygen, we generally deal with « rich » mixture since oxydation of the chamber and nozzle may lead to catastrophic failure. This leads to very different composition of combustion products than in air breathing engines. Although lot of studies on methane combustion in air have been made for air breathing engines, few work has been done on methane oxycombustion for space propulsion. This research has been carried out within the “In Space Propulsion 1 (ISP-1) FP7 framework programme”, and it is one of the first European research program (FP7) dedicated to space propulsion. Among all it focuses on methane combustion in pure oxygen (also known as oxycombustion).
The duties were Large Eddy Simulations, with detailed chemistry, and where possible comparison with the experiments carried out by ONERA (French aerospace research centre). During this research several technical reports were produced.
Methane combustion studies were carried out also during the first period of the THESUS project (Thrusters Evolution for Space Exploration an Upper Stages) from which a thesis has been produced.