Contact us

Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing.
Penrhyn Road
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 2EE

Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 9000

Rocket engine testing at London's only chemical propulsion laboratory

If research and development budgets are tight, or staff resources in short supply, then outsourcing your project could be the best solution. Kingston University is home to hybrid and bi-propellant rocket test facilities for research into rocket engine design and can provide a range of high quality evaluation and data analysis options for your project.

Save time and money

Student Jack James Marlow working on propellant feed calculations

Cost-effective research can be undertaken on your behalf, in-house, by staff who are experts in the field and closely supervised students. Whilst you benefit from the financial savings of outsourcing, our students benefit from 'real-world' project experience - helping create the skilled workforce of the future.

The research options we offer include: green propellant compatibility testing; thermochemical modelling of combustion performance; mechanical engine design and finite element modelling - plus data acquisition, safety analysis and risk assessment.

Jack James Marlow with the bi-propellant rocket engine he designed and manufactured in house

As a guide to our capabilities, recent projects have included...

  • 50N thrust nitrous oxide / PMMA hybrid rocket engine to demonstrate the fundamentals of rockets and their safe operation
  • 300N thrust liquid oxygen / polyethylene hybrid rocket engine
  • 50N thrust modular bipropellant engine to test new components and propellant configurations
  • Development of a non-pyrotechnic ignition system with remote operation
  • Student designed hybrid rocket engine
  • Propulsion options for small satellite launch vehicles with Newton Launch Systems and funded by UK Space Agency
  • Study into miniature 'green' propulsion options for Cubesats in partnership with EADS Innovation and Moog-ISP and funded by UK Space Agency

Rocket design and test facilities

Outside view of the rocket test cell

Developed by Dr Chris Welch and Dr Adam Baker with students Jack James Marlow and Philip Allen, the facility includes a sound insulated, blast protected structure with air exchange ventilation and impact resistant viewports to monitor hot firing tests. A computer link allows for remote operation, data acquisition and automatically sequenced, controlled test firing. Other features include:

  • Gaseous and liquefied gas propellant storage - plus cryogenic oxidisers (LOx)
  • Electronic measurement of Thrust using FX1901 OEM compression load cell.
  • Chamber Pressure measurement up to 400Bar
  • Temperature / thermocouples on request, e.g. K-type
  • Flow rate measurement using Venturi flow meter.
Student Pramod Vithanage working on the data acquisition and control board

A fully-equipped mechanical workshop and rapid prototyping machinery are also on site together with a range of industry standard software for CAD and Finite Element modelling including Dassault Systems' Solid Works , ANSYS, + FLUENT and CFX.

What's more, we can also model chemical rocket engines using GDLPep, Isp and NASA CEA codes.

For a cost-effective solution to your research project - choose Kingston University.

Contact Dr Adam Baker to find out how we can help you.

KU rocketlab director Dr. Adam Baker, working at Bloodhound, explains how rockets work in this short video

Kingston's 'hybrid rocket motor in a box' in operation at the Big Bang Fair