An RF Sensor for Gauging Screen-Channel Liquid Acquisition Devices for Cryogenic Propellants

Gregory A. Zimmerli, Scott Metzger, Marius Asipauskas
2014 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference   unpublished
A key requirement of a low-gravity screen-channel liquid acquisition device (LAD) is the need to retain 100% liquid in the channel in response to propellant outflow and spacecraft maneuvers. The point at which a screen-channel LAD ingests vapor is known as breakdown, and can be measured several different ways such as: visual observation of bubbles in the LAD channel outflow; a sudden change in pressure drop between the propellant tank and LAD sump outlet; or, an indication by wet-dry sensors
more » ... wet-dry sensors placed in the LAD channel or outflow stream. Here we describe a new type of sensor for gauging a screen-channel LAD, the Radio Frequency Mass Gauge (RFMG). The RFMG measures the natural electromagnetic modes of the screen-channel LAD, which is very similar to an RF waveguide, to determine the amount of propellant in the channel. By monitoring several of the RF modes, we show that the RFMG acts as a global sensor of the LAD channel propellant fill level, and enables detection of LAD breakdown even in the absence of outflow. This paper presents the theory behind the RFMG-LAD sensor, measurements and simulations of the RF modes of a LAD channel, and RFMG detection of LAD breakdown in a channel using a simulant fluid during inverted outflow and long-term stability tests.
doi:10.2514/6.2014-3582 fatcat:twv5ofxmyjhzxg4eer4rnng3la