To fit unique research goals, the RCL's highly flexible test cells can tailor test conditions in subscale environments.
The Research Combustion Laboratory (RCL) develops aerospace propulsion technology by performing tests on propulsion components and materials. Each of the RCL's separate test cells can provide a highly flexible matrix of test conditions to quickly tailor unique research goals. Common propellants include gaseous hydrogen and oxygen, liquid hydrogen and oxygen, and hydrocarbon fuels. Flow rates range from 0.1 to 7 lb/s Altitudes up to 90,000 ft can be simulated.
Storing and delivering these reactants allow the testing of a wide variety of test articles including rocket and air-breathing propulsion engines and components, fuel cells, and other power system components. The RCL's cross-cutting support capabilities have also made it a logical candidate for the testing of the regenerative fuel cell for the Helios aircraft, Shuttle Upgrade, and the Thrust Cell engine for the RLV program.
Small Multi-Purpose Research Facility (SMiRF)
The SMiRF, also part of the RCL, evaluates the performance of the thermal protection systems required to provide long-term storage (of up to 10 years) of cryogenic propellants in space.