South African indigenous propulsion projects.

Graugrun

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A collection of various South African propulsion projects, prototypes and ideas. Bits and pieces of these projects have been scattered around this site, I think it's time to gather them into one place for easy reference. Starting with this article on Cape Aerospace Technologies (CAT) designs. While their micro turbine designs geared mostly for hobby enthusiasts useage, they are scaling them up to allow for more serious military use.

They have some interesting claims to fame (others with in depth knowledge of the micro gas turbine industry can confirm this or not). These include:

1. Developing the first single fuel electric start system for micro gas turbines in the world in 1999.
2. Developing the world’s first plasma ignition system for micro gas turbines (outperforming standard glowplugs).
3. The fastest micro turbojet startup time on the market: six seconds from 0 rpm to idle (32 000 rpm), compared to the industry’s best at 25-40 seconds. Going from idle to full throttle takes three seconds.

They are now heading for 800N and 1400N thrust designs (around 1000N becomes interesting for military PGM use). Strangely enough they are also working on a concept 1kN rocket design, that if successful, they hope to scale up for use in LEO capable delivery systems (Micro satellite launches I assume).

When I spoke to the Managing Director at AAD in 2018 he already had the 400N thrust working model on his stand - so I'm not sure why the article states that it is still in development. He had a very close working relationship with the CSIR head who developed (a seperate series) of Micro Gas Turbines, that were then taken over (IP bought) by the UAE - more on that later.

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/aerosp...new-projects-for-cape-aerospace-technologies/
 

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Graugrun

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Gas Turbine Developments aim to enhance the South African aerospace industry offerings​


The CSIR has taken on the task of expanding its activities in gas turbine design, building on the engine developments of the 1980s and 1990s.

The CSIR is currently in various stages of development of a 200 Newton (N) turbojet engine for radio controlled models, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and target drones, a 600 N advanced cycle turbojet engine for Glider Sustainers, UAVs, target drones and weapons system applications, as well as a 3 kilo-Newton (kN) turbojet engine.

These developments are being pursued in order to enhance the existing technology and to ultimately have a fully working product to be manufactured in South Africa. There is a demand for the product and this will allow for a vibrant gas turbine industry in the South African market. The CSIR is working with Stellebosch University, other South African universities, as well as an SMME based in the Western Cape, called Cape Aerospace Technologies, to revive these technologies with the assistance of the Aeronautical Industry Support Initiative of the department of trade and industry.

The goals for the developments include upgrades of turbofans and turbo shafts of the 3 kN engine, with applications in rail transport, and remote power generation for shale gas sites in mind.

https://defsec.csir.co.za/aeronauti...he-south-african-aerospace-industry-offerings
 

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Graugrun

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The one that started it all (project Apartment) - initiated in the early to mid 1980's (IIRC) - it was an expendable turbine specifically designed to power a cruise missile type of weapon. (it is also pictured in my post #2 above). It resulted in the 65 kg (650N) thrust APA350 engine, which was then cancelled due to budget cuts.

Edit: Other published information gives it's maximum thrust at 3,3kN (3,300N) - which seems much more accurate given it's dimensions of 32cm width and a length of 1 meter. (unless of course this turbine and the APA350 are actually two different turbines).
 

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Graugrun

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A posting I did in the SA missile/PGM thread in 2014 after chatting to the lead engineer on the re-invigurated gas turbine project. He has unfortunately since emigrated to the UAE and now works for them - Incidently, they paid for the IP of the three gas turbine projects that he and his team completed while he was still at the South African CSIR (I will post some more on them soon) - below are my recollections of our long and interesting discusion at AAD 2014:


1. There is a strong international need/requirement that has been placed on them, hence the Resurrection of the program (plus a local need).
2. He dug up the project "Apartment" program purely as a starting point for the project, so as not to 'reinvent the wheel' - however his initial designs will differ quite a bit (much lighter, smaller, more powerful and more fuel efficient).
3. He has commissioned Stellenbosch University and a small private company to design and build a 200N turbojet engine for radio controlled models use. This could have easily been bought off the shelf, however the aim was to produce our own and obtain the basic knowledge and grounding, allowing them to develop larger stuff later. They have completed the 200N project (I will post pics later).
4. The University and small company are now busy with designing the 600N advanced cycle turbine for Glider sustain-er purposes - and to further increase their ability.
5. He has a request to produce a very compact engine (could be the 600N mentioned above, or perhaps the new 3 kN model, developed from project Apartment?), for the Raptor III as per my post above. Although the lead Engineer on the Raptor III told me that he is free to choose any gas turbine engine he wants - so if CSIR don't make it in time, I guess Denel is going elsewhere. He will end up on a 6.6 kN model at the end of this project (so -200N, then 600N, then 3.3 kN, ending with a 6.6 kN engine).
6. He mentioned that there were a few other projects, other then project Apartment on the go in the 80's and 90's, without elaborating...
7. He seemed to indicate that he will be working on developing a turbofan as his project (as opposed to the turbojet that project Apartment is) - perhaps this will be the 6.6 kN version.
8. The reason project Apartment was terminated (even though it was showing very good promise), was that the French quickly decided to supply us with one of their own turbojets (Microturbo?), as soon as they saw that we were getting it right, they obviously thought it better to get the sale and prevent a new competitor in the micro turbo market. Apparently what we bought from the French was then used in Skua (although the accompanying sign mentions that project Apartment was as a replacement for the Skua turbojet).
Below are some pics of project Apartment model as per the show - I am not a professional photographer and battled a bit with the perspex case covering the engine, so please forgive the poor quality of my pics.
 

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Graugrun

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Part of an article from 2019 (Defenceweb), discussing the new/modern (replacement of project Aprtment) Micro Gas turbine:

The CSIR has been working on the project for more than three years, with trial manufacture and assembly of the engine subsystems already started in order to establish a reliable supply chain and advanced manufacturing base. The CSIR is currently in the process of completing a test facility to prove the engine’s compressor capability, with the first test of the engine compressor around March 2019.

As the compressor design is highly scalable, engines in the 60 to 150 kg thrust class are possible with only minor changes in the engine architecture. The largest of these has the potential to form the high-pressure core or a larger bypass engine family.

The engine will be about 250 mm in diameter and some 500 mm in length. Maximum thrust will be around 110 kg and maximum RPM 60 000. Fuel consumption at idle will be .384 kg/minute and at max thrust 1.536 kg/minute.

The CSIR notes that the current design can be scaled up and down and converted to larger bypass engine architectures. A shaft engine variant of the current 100 kg thrust engine would be capable of 100 kW shaft power output if modified.



My own discussions (and pictures) with the head of the CSIR development team at AAD 2018:

1000N Gas Turbine- it's now named the SED-1000X.

As can be seen by the big change in the internal layout, a different direction in it's design has been taken, it's now much more conventional in it's layout and is also pretty much frozen in terms of it's final design - It's about 50cm long and 25cm wide. Testing of the compressor section is scheduled for March 2019, and I guess that the complete system will have been tested (fully?) by the end of 2019. One of the designers told me that he would more than likely scale it up (3,3 kN ?), and then go on to use it as a core for a turbofan model/version.

Pictured below is a 1.1 scale 3 D printed version for show and benefit of the engineering team.
 

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kaiserbill

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Nice posts.
There was that model from the 90's that Atlas/Denel (or was it the CSIR?) displayed at a defence expo.

It was a small turbofan, as opposed to a turbojet, from what I could see. It had a larger fan diameter and was shorter.
I think I posted it in the SA aerospace thread a few years back.
It remains a mystery..
 

kaiserbill

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Here is the original post, number 4 on the SA aerospace thread..

"This gas turbine engine was revealed in the early 1990's.

Apart from the announcement that it was developed for the military, and could also have potential civil applications, I have no further information on it, so any help would be appreciated.
It's clearly a much more sophisticated engine than the APA."
 

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Graugrun

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Moving on to some of the bigger stuff - dual use satellite/nuclear MRBM/ICBM area of interest - some of the rocket motor development in the late 1980's IIRC... I added a red arrow in the pic at the bottom of the brochure, to point out the rocket motor for the V3 C type (Sidewinder class) Air-Air missile - it should give some perspective reference as the the size of the larger rocket motors...

Then some more pics of the nozzles and filament wound fuel tanks - The scale can be better seen with the technician standing next to the large rocket nozzle - note the 2nd stage medium rocket nozzle next to/behind him. The 3rd stage nozzle is the black and silver one at left in the bottom left pic on the brochure
 

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Thorn

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Moving on to some of the bigger stuff - dual use satellite/nuclear MRBM/ICBM area of interest - some of the rocket motor development in the late 1980's IIRC... I added a red arrow in the pic at the bottom of the brochure, to point out the rocket motor for the V3 C type (Sidewinder class) Air-Air missile - it should give some perspective reference as the the size of the larger rocket motors...

Then some more pics of the nozzles and filament wound fuel tanks - The scale can be better seen with the technician standing next to the large rocket nozzle - note the 2nd stage medium rocket nozzle next to/behind him. The 3rd stage nozzle is the black and silver one at left in the bottom left pic on the brochure
Hi Graugrun

Really good posts and Q images.

Thank you for your referral.

Kind regards

Thorn
 

Graugrun

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These articles I scanned appeared in the Star newspaper (Johannesburg) on the 16-10-1992. Although they give out some detail, I wish they where less geared for the layman and were a bit more technical...
 

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