Theory behind RPA
Rocket engine performance
RPA is a program which calculates chemical equilibrium product concentrations from specified set of propellant components,
determines thermodynamic properties for the product mixture, and calculates theoretical as well as estimated test (actual) nozzle performance.
The method used for obtaining equilibrium compositions is the minimization of Gibbs free energy.
Applied to the combustion chamber, the method allows:
- to determine the equilibrium product concentrations from adiabatic, isenthalpic combustion of two or more reactants
- to determine the equilibrium product concentrations from monopropellant decomposition
- to calculate the isentropic quasi-one-dimensional nozzle flow for both shifting and frozen equilibrium flow models
To obtain the rocket performance, the tool calculates conditions at several sections of the chamber.
It always includes the calculation of combustion (injector section) and nozzle throat parameters,
as well as nozzle exit parameters, defined by either nozzle exit pressure
expansion pressure ratio
pt/pe, or expansion area ratio
The user can force the program to calculate the performance with respect of pressure drop
between injector and nozzle inlet, defining such parameters as a chamber mass flux or a nozzle inlet
contraction area ratio
Default nozzle flow model is a shifting equilibrium: combustion products continue to react and reach chemical equilibrium
at each temperature and pressure conditions along the nozzle.
The user can trigger the "freezing" of nozzle flow composition downstream of the throat.
In this case, it is assumed that composition is "frozen" (infinitely slow reaction rates)
during expansion along the nozzle. The location of "freezing" nozzle section is defined
by either pressure ratio
or area ratio
In case of overxpanded nozzle flow, the tool calculates the performance with respect of flow separation.
The complete equation set as well as iteration procedure described in paper 
which is based on work done by Gordon, S. and McBride, B.J. .
Thermal analysis of thrust chambers
Thermal analysis is an essential part in the design of rocket engines. The rapid and accurate
estimation of cooling effectiveness is required if new vehicle propulsion concepts are to be
evaluated in a timely and cost effective manner.
With release of v.2.0, RPA introduces Thermal Analysis Module, that enables the analysis of
different types of cooling methods, including radiation, convective and film cooling.
Numerical model is described in the article RPA: Tool for Rocket Propulsion Analysis. Thermal Analysis of Thrust Chambers. The tool enables the thermal analysis of rocket engine thrust chambers with accuracy
sufficient for conceptual and preliminary design studies, as well as for rapid evaluation of different variants
of cooled thrust chambers and its verification in detailed design phase.
- RPA: Design Tool for Liquid Rocket Engine Analysis
- RPA: Tool for Rocket Propulsion Analysis. Thermal Analysis of Thrust Chambers
- RPA: Tool for Rocket Propulsion Analysis. Assessment of Delivered Performance of Thrust Chamber
- Gordon, S. and McBride, B.J. Computer Program for Calculation of Complex Chemical Equilibrium Compositions and Applications I. Analysis
NASA Reference Publication 1311, Oct. 1994.