Dicalite Supports OSU High Altitude Liquid Engine Team

With a Cryogenic Perlite Donation


Last month, we talked about how cryogenic perlite is used in the fascinating science of cryonics. This month, we’re taking another look at how cryogenic perlite can be used: rocketry. The Oregon State University HALE team reached out to us about their mission to win the Base 11 Space Challenge—a race to the Karman Line using a single-stage rocket. The university’s HALE team is currently building a liquid rocket engine test stand that incorporates perlite as the cryogenic insulation for the liquid oxygen holding tank. We were eager to support their cause and donated cryogenic perlite to the program.

The Mission of the Base 11 Space Challenge

The Base 11 Space Challenge is a challenge for student-led university teams to design, build, and launch a liquid-propelled, single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers (the Karman Line) by December 30, 2021. The mission behind the Base 11 Space Challenge is to dramatically increase the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent in the United States with greater representation and inclusion of women and minorities, while empowering the future workforce with the education and skill-training necessary for jobs in the aerospace and related industries.

Annual competitions and prizes mark milestone achievements in the process including design of the liquid-fuel rocket, static testing of the engine, and smaller pop-up innovation challenges to be announced. The biggest prize, which is fully funded, is the $1 million prize for launching the rocket to the edge of space. OSU’s HALE team has its sights set on the big prize.

Oregon State University HALE Team and the Role of Cryogenic Perlite

As part of their liquid rocket engine design, the Oregon State University HALE team is researching thermal insulation material, and they are excited about the advantages of using perlite. They plan to perform off-gassing rate tests for air versus cryogenic perlite to determine the relative thermal coefficient value and how it will increase test performance efficiency. To support this goal, Dicalite has donated 25 cubic feet of cryogenic grade perlite.

The HALE Team’s Rockets

All of HALE’s engines are completely designed, developed and manufactured on-campus from start to finish. The engines are named after stars in the night sky of increasing temperature.

Mira – This design is a pressure-fed, kerosene and liquid oxygen with a pintle injector and ablative cooling. The design simple and small at 2,000 lbs thrust and will allow the design to become more aggressive as experience is gained.

Engine #2 – This second design will progress on all lessons learned from Mira and incorporate new technology. The second engine will use an electric pump cycle and a regeneratively cooled external nozzle. This design will be much more complex than Mira, and increase to a minimum of 5,000 lbs thrust with a burn time of multiple minutes.

The team faced issues selecting a suitable insulator that meets the design criteria for the environmental operating conditions as well as the limited space. Cryogenic perlite is able to help them meet design requirements.

Dicalite Management Group‘s Cryogenic Perlite

We provide cryogenic insulation services and produce an extremely lightweight expanded perlite suitable for use in industrial storage vessels. Cryogenic perlite is a finer grade of perlite with consistencies similar to sand. Advantages include:

  • Very low thermal conductivity: λs = 0.034 – 0.042 W/(m.K)
  • Very low moisture content
  • Free from organic materials
  • Safe for human health
  • Excellent thermal properties
  • Low cost
  • Easy to install
  • Noncombustible
  • Meets fire regulations
  • Doesn’t shrink, swell, warp or slump
  • Pest Proof

Dicaperl owns and operates several portable expansion plants within our Chemrock Cryogenics division, which we can bring into action all over North America and Europe. We are uniquely positioned to ship or provide on-site portable expansion of cryogenic perlite, regardless of the amount of perlite your organization needs. Call us today at 866-728-3303 to learn more.

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