Author Topic: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine  (Read 757898 times)

Offline LouScheffer

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #760 on: 07/28/2019 06:05 pm »
They are hardware rich in that they have no fear of running out of hardware to test although it appears they would prefer to solve any issues that led to the issue before building a replacement.
One way to use hardware-richness is to speed development by not waiting until problems are solved to continue testing (which may uncover other problems).  Fixing problems serially is an efficient use of resources, but comes at a risk to schedule.  On Apollo, they used hardware richness to help complete the test campaign faster.   From Remembering the Giants, a monograph about Apollo engines:
Quote
When a component failed in an engine test, or in a component test, the UCR was generated. The first thing we had to determine was whether the latest configuration had failed, or whether it was something else that had already been replaced on the engine and the failure wasn’t useful. There was enough hardware richness that we had five engine test stands, running two shifts. [..] The attempt was to incorporate any corrective actions immediately, and put out kits for retrofit of everything in the field. The logbooks of which kits applied to which engines were pretty interesting.
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I think for major problems we have always [...] established an investigation team[...] Today, we would not test for a period of time. I think on F-1 that was rare. We would continue testing while the investigation was going on.

Offline Lemurion

Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #761 on: 07/28/2019 06:22 pm »
They are hardware rich in that they have no fear of running out of hardware to test although it appears they would prefer to solve any issues that led to the issue before building a replacement.
One way to use hardware-richness is to speed development by not waiting until problems are solved to continue testing (which may uncover other problems).  Fixing problems serially is an efficient use of resources, but comes at a risk to schedule.  On Apollo, they used hardware richness to help complete the test campaign faster.   From Remembering the Giants, a monograph about Apollo engines:
Quote
When a component failed in an engine test, or in a component test, the UCR was generated. The first thing we had to determine was whether the latest configuration had failed, or whether it was something else that had already been replaced on the engine and the failure wasn’t useful. There was enough hardware richness that we had five engine test stands, running two shifts. [..] The attempt was to incorporate any corrective actions immediately, and put out kits for retrofit of everything in the field. The logbooks of which kits applied to which engines were pretty interesting.
Quote
I think for major problems we have always [...] established an investigation team[...] Today, we would not test for a period of time. I think on F-1 that was rare. We would continue testing while the investigation was going on.

I agree with your point, and that's definitely how SpaceX has approached Raptor development. Blue on the other hand seems to be focused more on getting it right than getting it done fast.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #762 on: 07/28/2019 06:33 pm »
I agree with your point, and that's definitely how SpaceX has approached Raptor development. Blue on the other hand seems to be focused more on getting it right than getting it done fast.

I don't think we have enough direct evidence to determine what approach Blue Origin is using. They say they want to use a "hardware rich" test program, but we have seen little evidence of that.

We do know that SpaceX is making fast progress on Raptor, and that they have a constant supply of Raptor engines that they are producing.

As I like to say, in a world without SpaceX Blue Origin would be king of reusability. They are building a remarkable range of products, from reusable engines, to semi-reusable launchers, and now to lunar landers. Truly amazing stuff!

But SpaceX does exist, and they sure seem to have a much faster development tempo than Blue Origin, as well as bigger ambitions.

I cheer for both, but part of my cheer for Blue Origin is that I hope they go faster...  ;)
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #763 on: 07/28/2019 09:29 pm »
I don't expect we'll get any updates on the BE-4 until after it's fully ready to go.

We've gotten several updates already from Blue Origin on BE-4, the latest being Bob Smith's report in early May of an 87-second run.

But what was noticeably absent from Bob Smith's report was any mention of running at full thrust. They'd surely be tooting that horn if they'd done it yet.

Remember this isn't just Blue Origin's neck on the line, it's ULA's with Vulcan, and Tory Bruno hasn't been shy about using Twitter to publicize bits of Vulcan progress news. I expect he would be feeling much better if BE-4 had already run at full thrust and Blue had publicized that fact.

And in the background is SpaceX's lawsuit pointing out (in part) that the Air Force LSA awards to ULA and Blue Origin were suspect because neither of them have a functioning rocket yet, both of which will rely on BE-4, and the judge in the lawsuit can read newspapers and Twitter and see for herself that the engine both companies are relying on for the next phase of the competition isn't even ready yet. As opposed to SpaceX, who has both Merlin and Raptor engines already flying/hopping. So there would be PR value and possibly even contractual/legal value in announcing BE-4 progress ASAP.

So I'd expect we'll hear about a BE-4 full thrust run pretty soon after it happens, and the fact that Blue hasn't reported it yet is somewhat worrisome, IMO. I believe they'll get there; the question is when.
« Last Edit: 07/28/2019 09:49 pm by Kabloona »

Online butters

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #764 on: 07/29/2019 12:23 am »
The last bit of news we've had about BE-4 is that they hope the current dev engine is the last dev engine. Which might be a sign that they see the light at the end of the tunnel, but statements like that certainly don't reflect the attitude of "hardware-rich" development. It sounds like they're afraid that damaging the engine during testing would be a significant setback. It also seems like Blue really wants this spec to be the final spec and wants to avoid any further design iteration.

As the months roll on, it becomes more likely that the next BE-4 news will either be very good or very bad. They're either going to get this spec of BE-4 working reliably at full power, or they're going to reopen the design and announce a significant delay.
« Last Edit: 07/29/2019 12:24 am by butters »

Offline kendalla59

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #765 on: 07/29/2019 06:19 pm »
I agree with your point, and that's definitely how SpaceX has approached Raptor development. Blue on the other hand seems to be focused more on getting it right than getting it done fast.

... ...
I cheer for both, but part of my cheer for Blue Origin is that I hope they go faster...  ;)

Less Gradatim and more Ferociter I guess. Or try taking bigger Gradus? I think the point of being "hardware rich" means learning from dramatic and impressive failures. In the case of Blue, that might be happening but they really don't like to talk about it.

Offline bombyx

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #766 on: 08/01/2019 05:24 pm »
 Here is a little summary of the  BE4 development program so far :


        2015  :  Powerpack start transcient testing
 
        2016  :  170 tests preburner/main injector
                  :  Sub scale BE4 for preburner + regen cooled chamber + nozzle tests

    3/6/17  : First full scale BE4 assembled  (the 70% thrust rated engine)
  4/13/17  : first testing in 3/8 weeks
  5/14/17  : explosion of the powerpack/engine
10/19/17  : Firing at : 50% thrust   /  3 s
 
    1/8/18  : Firing  for 11s   , unknown thrust
  3/12/18  : Firing  for 114s  , 65% thrust
  5/22/18  : Firing  for 114s  , 70% thrust
  7/11/18  : Firing for  200s  , unknown thrust

  1/23/19  : New engine rated 100%.
  2/12/19  : Firing for 200s , 70% thrust
  2/26/19  : T. Bruno : Waiting for some final data of BE4 for Vulcan CDR
  3/21/19  : Firing at 80% thrust , unknown duration
  4/12/19  : Going through different iterations, New powerpack
    5/7/19  : Firing for 82s , unknown thrust :
                  : Very good test on what they think will be the last development version of BE4.
  5/20/19  : T. Bruno : Final design review of Vulcan (So ULA have the final data they were waiting for).
« Last Edit: 08/01/2019 05:26 pm by bombyx »

Offline Lemurion

Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #767 on: 08/01/2019 06:56 pm »
Great I’d summary, thanks.

Sounds like all anyone is waiting for is confirmation on reaching thrust targets.

Offline bombyx

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #768 on: 08/02/2019 04:09 pm »
From the "Environmental assessment for launching Vulcan at CCAFS" document , (see Vulcan thread reply #946 & #948 ), we can read :

Quote
The first stage will use new BE-4 booster engines. A single BE-4 engine consumes approximately 150,000 pounds (68,038 kilograms) of LNG and 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) of LO2.


Does this mean that the mixture ratio equals 3.33 ?

Offline kendalla59

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #769 on: 08/02/2019 05:54 pm »
From the "Environmental assessment for launching Vulcan at CCAFS" document , (see Vulcan thread reply #946 & #948 ), we can read :

Quote
The first stage will use new BE-4 booster engines. A single BE-4 engine consumes approximately 150,000 pounds (68,038 kilograms) of LNG and 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) of LO2.


Does this mean that the mixture ratio equals 3.33 ?

CH4 + 2(O2) = CO2 + 2(H2O)
16 g/mol + 2*14 g/mol so ideally that's about 28/16 = 1.75

First of all, LNG is not pure CH4 so there are some longer chain hydrocarbons in the mix. If they really are doubling the O2 needed for combustion then my guess is they are doing that to eliminate any possibility of coking or soot formation. There may be some combustion temperature issues also. Disclaimer: I'm an embedded software developer with a degree in chemistry, but I'm no rocket scientist.
« Last Edit: 08/02/2019 05:57 pm by kendalla59 »

Online DrRobin

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #770 on: 08/02/2019 07:36 pm »
From the "Environmental assessment for launching Vulcan at CCAFS" document , (see Vulcan thread reply #946 & #948 ), we can read :

Quote
The first stage will use new BE-4 booster engines. A single BE-4 engine consumes approximately 150,000 pounds (68,038 kilograms) of LNG and 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) of LO2.


Does this mean that the mixture ratio equals 3.33 ?

CH4 + 2(O2) = CO2 + 2(H2O)
16 g/mol + 2*14 g/mol so ideally that's about 28/16 = 1.75

First of all, LNG is not pure CH4 so there are some longer chain hydrocarbons in the mix. If they really are doubling the O2 needed for combustion then my guess is they are doing that to eliminate any possibility of coking or soot formation. There may be some combustion temperature issues also. Disclaimer: I'm an embedded software developer with a degree in chemistry, but I'm no rocket scientist.

Unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying here (putting on my chem major goggles), the Atomic Weight of Oxygen is 16 (15.999), so the molecular weight of O2 is 32g/mol, and with the stoichiometry of CH4 + 2O2, that should be 64/16 = 4.0. (I see that in practice, the ratio's are run more fuel-rich than that.)
« Last Edit: 08/02/2019 07:38 pm by DrRobin »

Offline envy887

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #771 on: 08/03/2019 12:01 am »
From the "Environmental assessment for launching Vulcan at CCAFS" document , (see Vulcan thread reply #946 & #948 ), we can read :

Quote
The first stage will use new BE-4 booster engines. A single BE-4 engine consumes approximately 150,000 pounds (68,038 kilograms) of LNG and 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) of LO2.


Does this mean that the mixture ratio equals 3.33 ?

That means an O/F ratio of 3.3, plus or minus a bit. They only gave one and a half significant figures, and threw an "approximately" on it, so take that with a medium sized grain of salt.

Offline lonestriker

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #772 on: 08/03/2019 02:47 am »
More test firings (this time at full thrust):

Quote
Blue Origin
@blueorigin
·
18m
BE-4 continues to rack up time on the test stand. Here’s a great shot of our full power engine test today #GradatimFerociter

https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1157478525575684097
« Last Edit: 08/03/2019 03:46 am by lonestriker »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #773 on: 08/03/2019 02:56 am »
Fantastic news that full power has finally been reached - a huge milestone.

Here’s the photo from Blue’s tweet.
« Last Edit: 08/03/2019 02:57 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline Lemurion

Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #774 on: 08/03/2019 03:05 am »
That's great news for Blue.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #775 on: 08/03/2019 03:08 am »
That's great news for Blue.
And for ULA and for spaceflight in general.
Now hopefully they can get some full duration runs in and see how the engine holds up.

Offline dante2308

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #776 on: 08/03/2019 03:20 am »
That's great news for Blue.
And for ULA and for spaceflight in general.
Now hopefully they can get some full duration runs in and see how the engine holds up.

I'm happy for BO and BE-4.

This does support the theory that Blue is not being tight-lipped about success, but rather about the difficulties they faced and/or the mundane details of engineering and iteration. I expect them to be forthcoming about NG's progress when it comes as well. It is fairly in line with their best interest to be forthcoming when they achieve something since their greatest weakness is building up a reputation as a launch provider, even among aerospace engineers. This tweet definitely helps the conversation.

Offline lonestriker

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #777 on: 08/03/2019 03:23 am »
Fantastic news that full power has finally been reached - a huge milestone.

Here’s the photo from Blue’s tweet.

This is the first public indication of a full power firing that I'm aware of.  They may have hit that milestone earlier, but only the insiders know at this point.  Maybe SpaceX's recent activity "encouraged" Blue to lift their veil of secrecy a bit.

Looking forward to the video (and audio) and seeing clusters of this engine roar strapped to a real rocket.

Offline bombyx

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #778 on: 08/03/2019 03:28 am »
I tried to make a little comparison of the engine's exhaust plumes at 65% thrust firing and at 100% thrust firing :


Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Blue Origin's BE-4 Engine
« Reply #779 on: 08/03/2019 03:48 am »
That means an O/F ratio of 3.3, plus or minus a bit. They only gave one and a half significant figures, and threw an "approximately" on it, so take that with a medium sized grain of salt.

In my simulations using the AFAL Specific Impulse Program, I found with pure CH4, chamber pressure = 20.7 MPa and expansion ratio = 77.5 (same as the SSME), that the best Isp was obtained for a MR of 3.6.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Tags: Blue Origin BE-4 
 

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