Drag Prediction for Supersonic Hydrogen-Fueled Airliners

Author(s) : Alexander H. Forbes, Anant Pately, Narayanan Komerathz

Volume & Issue : VOLUME 1 / 2016 , ISSUE 1

Page(s) : 8-21


Abstract

Improved payload ratio more than compensates for the drag penalty associated with the low density of liquid hydrogen for supersonic airliner operation, if this factor is included at the conceptual design stage. With rising costs of hydrocarbon fuels, and carbon emissions, and the dramatic changes in the demographics and economics of global demand for long-distance air travel, supersonic hydrogen-fueled airliners are becoming viable. Conservative arguments suggest that with a suitable cruise Mach number and altitude, hydrogen-fueled airliners can achieve seatmile costs. The fleet size and number of routes are much larger than those projected in the 1980s when the market was restricted to western hemisphere transoceanic executive travel. Radically different configurations may be appropriate. Estimation of cruise wave drag is a crucial but cumbersome step in the conceptual design iteration for such configurations. A convenient alternative is sought for wave drag optimization, by integrating popular computer-aided design software with the drag estimation process. As a first step the paper uses Mach cone intersections rather than the classical technique of integrating over flat planes at different orientations. This method is validated against classical results for non-lifting bodies and then against wing-body configurations, and shown to yield accuracies similar to those of the classical flat Mach plane method, with substantially lower cost and effort.



Keywords

wave drag, supersonic airliner, Sears Haack

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