A high-pressure fuel coking test apparatus was designed and developed and was used to evaluate thermal decomposition (coking) limits and carbon deposition rates in heated copper tubes for two hydrocarbon fuels, RP-1 and commercial-grade propane. Tests were also conducted using JP-7 and chemically-pure propane as being representative of more refined cuts of the baseline fuels. A parametric evaluation of fuel thermal stability was performed at pressures of 136 atm to 340 atm, bulk fuel velocities in the range 6–30 m/s and tube wall temperatures in the range 422–811 K. In addition, the effect of the inside wall material on deposit formation was evaluated in selected tests which were conducted using nickel-plated tubes. The results of the tests indicated that substantial deposit formation occurs with RP-1 fuel at wall temperatures between 600 and 800 K, with peak deposit formation occurring near 700 K. No improvements were obtained when deoxygenated JP-7 fuel was substituted for RP-1. The carbon deposition rates for the propane fuels were generally higher than those obtained for either of the kerosene fuels at any given wall temperature. Finally, plating the inside wall of the tubes with nickel was found to significantly reduce carbon deposition rates for RP-1 fuel.

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