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Advanced Concept Development of a Hydrogen Supersonic Airliner: Second Iteration

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Advanced Aerospace Student Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.146.1 - 22.146.12



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Paper Authors


Narayanan M. Komerath Georgia Institute of Technology

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Professor, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering

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Advanced concept development of a hydrogen supersonic airliner: Second IterationAt the 2010 Annual Conference, we presented the experience from 3 levels of studentspursuing the idea that supersonic airliners fuelled with liquid hydrogen are viable in thenear future. The technical and business case for hydrogen-powered supersonic airlinerswas re-examined as an exercise in multidisciplinary concept innovation byundergraduates at different levels. A progression of exercises was used. A conceptualdesign exercise in a freshman introduction course was expanded to modify a conventionalhydrocarbon fuelled airliner concept to one using hydrogen fuel, quantifying theeconomic opportunities in the Carbon Market. Sophomores in research Special Problemswere tasked with extending the freshman experience to supersonic airliners, as part of ateam including senior students. These students explored radical concepts for suchairliners. An upper level aerodynamics course was used to develop technical figures ofmerit for supersonic hydrogen airliners from basic aerodynamics knowledge. The processidentified numerous gaps in the comprehension of the students from their courses. Theintegration challenge of this project enabled iterative refinement of their understanding.The concepts and analysis approaches taught at each level are seen to have become usefulonly when subjected to integrated use through several iterations. The paper alsodemonstrated a process to show how some certainty can be achieved in developing anambitious advanced concept through the notion of a “figure of merit”. The results led toa poster presentation and progress towards peer-reviewed archival publication.A multi-level process was laid out, to explore a high-risk, realistic concept usingundergraduate participants. Vertical and horizontal knowledge integration aspects wereexplored, with differing levels of success and difficulty. A simple conceptual designprocedure was used at the freshman level to permit students to explore advanced aircraftconcepts and see what was needed to make the design close. This process was then usedas the starting point to develop configurations in undergraduate research projects and anupper division aerodynamics course, where radical configurations on the one hand, anddetailed technical calculations and optimization on the other, were performed.The conclusions on the LH2 supersonic transport were very encouraging. As the cost ofhydrocarbon fuel rises and the cost of hydrogen production comes down, LH2 becomesan ever more attractive option. As planned there, the concept exploration results from lastyear have become the starting point for this year’s course assignments. The gaps inlearning seen last year are being addressed this year.The new paper for 2011 extends prior work through a second cycle of iteration, bringingin the experiences of developing a paper for professional peer review, presenting tovisiting technical experts from industry, and hopefully, presenting to the airline industryearly in 2011. It also discusses the experience from a current experiment to close theiterative cycle of improvement: refining the undergraduate high speed aerodynamicscourse, incorporating the lessons and capabilities learned from the Special Problemsresearch projects and professional papers. AcknowledgementsThe work reported in this paper was made possible by resources being developed for the“EXTROVERT” cross-disciplinary learning project under NASA Grant NNX09AF67GS01. Mr. Anthony Springer is the Technical Monitor.

Komerath, N. M. (2011, June), Advanced Concept Development of a Hydrogen Supersonic Airliner: Second Iteration Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17427

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