MECH ENG 4106 - Aerospace Propulsion

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

Introduction to air-breathing (gas turbines, ramjets, ducted rockets, scramjets) jet propulsion systems. Prediction of thrust, combustion reactions, specific fuel consumption and operating performance. Aerothermodynamics of inlets, combustors, nozzles, compressors, turbines. Review of space propulsion systems. Introduction to alternative future space propulsion systems. Chemical rocket and jet engine combustion including thermochemistry, chemical kinetics and the combustion chamber and instabilities. Jet engine noise and emissions. Overview of jet engine systems such as thrust reversal, internal air, starting and ignition, controls and instrumentation, power plant testing and installation, maintenance.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MECH ENG 4106
    Course Aerospace Propulsion
    Coordinating Unit School of Mechanical Engineering
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Incompatible MECH ENG 4036 or MECH ENG 4037
    Assumed Knowledge 6 units of Level II Applied Maths, MECH ENG 3100, MECH ENG 3104
    Course Description Introduction to air-breathing (gas turbines, ramjets, ducted rockets, scramjets) jet propulsion systems. Prediction of thrust, combustion reactions, specific fuel consumption and operating performance. Aerothermodynamics of inlets, combustors, nozzles, compressors, turbines. Review of space propulsion systems. Introduction to alternative future space propulsion systems. Chemical rocket and jet engine combustion including thermochemistry, chemical kinetics and the combustion chamber and instabilities. Jet engine noise and emissions. Overview of jet engine systems such as thrust reversal, internal air, starting and ignition, controls and instrumentation, power plant testing and installation, maintenance.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Adjunct Lecturer Warrick Miller

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1 Explain propulsion systems (turbojets, turbofans, ramjets, ducted rockets, scramjets, chemical and electrical space propulsion (review) and non-traditional space propulsion systems) and their application to aerospace vehicles;
    2 Demonstrate skills to analytically and numerically solve problems related to aerospace propulsion systems both on paper and using numerical methods;
    3 Demonstrate skills in working independently with minimal supervision;
    4 Demonstrate skills in critical evaluation of scientific literature;
    5 Demonstrate skills in working as a team member; and
    6 Demonstrate skills in planning and presentation of scientific talks and reports.

    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer.
    The course is designed to develop the following Elements of Competency: 1.1   1.2   1.3   1.4   1.5   1.6   2.1   2.2   2.3   2.4   3.1   3.2   3.3   3.4   3.5   3.6   

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    1) Course notes

    2) Textbook: Hill, P., and Peterson, C., Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Propulsion, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1992,

    3) Any online material will be available at MyUni.

    4) Digital recordings of lectures (e.g., taping lectures, wireless network, pod-casts) may not be made available to students who are absent.

    Recommended Resources

    1) Sutton, G. P., and Biblarz, O., Rocket Propulsion Elements, 8th Ed, Wiley-interscience, 2010

    2) Bathie, W. W., Fundamentals of Gas Turbines, 2nd Ed, John Wiley & Sons, 1992.

    3) Goebel, D. M, and Katz, I., Fundamentals of Electric Propulsion, John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

    4) Turns, S. R., An Introduction to Combustion, 2nd Ed, McGraw-Hill, 2000.

    Online Learning

    Copies of assignments and any paper material distributed during class will also be posted on My-Uni.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Lectures supported by problem-solving tutorials, group seminars, and a practical laboratory developing material covered in lectures.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Formal Contact: Lectures and tutorials: 41 hours, Seminars: 4 hours, Practical: 5 hours, Exam: 3 hours.

    Suggested personal workload (will vary between students): Reading and revising course material: 30-50 hours, Completion of assignments and practical report: 30-50 hours, Exam preparation: 30-50 hours.

    Learning Activities Summary

    The numbers quoted here are approximations and will vary if some activities take longer or less time than anticipated:

    I. Review of thermodynamics and Introduction of Propulsion – 10 lectures

    1. Review
    2. Mixtures of gases
    3. Thermodynamic cycles
    4. Combustion thermodynamics

    II. Chemical Propulsion – 24 lectures

    1. Air-Breathing Propulsion Systems

      1. turbojet systems
      2. turbofan systems
      3. turboprops/propfans systems
      4. ramjet systems
      5. scramjet systems
      6. PDE’s and other advanced concepts
    2. Air-Breathing Propulsion System Components

      1. subsonic inlets and diffusers
      2. supersonic inlets and diffusers
      3. axial and radial (centrifugal) compressors
      4. combustors
      5. axial turbines
      6. nozzles
      7. propellors and fans
    3. Air-Breathing Propulsion System Integration

    4. Rocket Propulsion Systems

      1. thrust analysis
      2. vertical trajectory analyses
      3. staging performance
      4. basic orbital dynamics
    5. Liquid propellant rocket systems

      1. propellants
      2. preburners
      3. turbopumps
      4. injectors
      5. thrust chambers
      6. nozzles
    6. Solid propellant rocket systems

      1. propellants
      2. configurations
      3. characteristics

    III. Electric Propulsion – 5 lectures

    1. Physics of electromagnetic fields
    2. Plasmas and magnetohydrodynamics
    3. One-dimensional steady flow of a plasma
    4. Magnetic Reynolds number
    5. Practical electric propulsion devices

    IV. Alternative space propulsion systems (student Seminars) – 5 lectures

    V. Review of course material – 2 lectures

    Specific Course Requirements

    Students will be required to adhere to laboratory conduct safety guidelines for the practical component of this course.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weighting (%) Individual/ Group Formative/ Summative
    Due (week)*
    Hurdle criteria Learning outcomes
    Assignment 1 5 Individual Summative Week 5 1. 2. 3. 
    Assignment 2 5 Individual Summative Week 7 1. 2. 3. 
    Assignment 3 5 Individual Summative Week 9 1. 2. 3.
    Assignment 4 5 Individual Summative Week 11 1. 2. 3.
    Quizes 5 Individual Summative Weeks 3-11 1. 2. 3.
    Group Assignments 15 Group Summative Weeks 11-12 1. 2. 3.
    Lab 10 Individual Summative Weeks 7-11 Min 50%  3. 4. 6. 
    Final Exam 50 Individual Summative Exam period 1. 2. 3.
    Total 100
    * The specific due date for each assessment task will be available on MyUni.
    This assessment breakdown complies with the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy.

    Due to the current COVID-19 situation modified arrangements have been made to assessments to facilitate remote learning and teaching. Assessment details provided here reflect recent updates.

    There will be no changes to the quizzes or the assignments. These are to be submitted online, and will continue to be weighted at 5% for the quizzes, and 20% for the assignments.

    There will also be no changes to the group project. The current advice from the University is to maintain group work requirements, as groups can collaborate online. The deliverables will be unchanged, and will consist of a technical paper, a video presentation, presentation slides, and a computer program. As stated in the project description, there is no requirement for every group member to participate in the presentation, workload should be allocated and managed within the group. Remote students (i.e. those who
    are overseas) will still have the option to complete the project in a group or to complete a modified version of the project individually. The weighting of the group project will remain at 15%.

    Changes will be required to the exam format, as the University is not holding the regular exam period. The examination will now be a take-home examination submitted through MyUni rather than an invigilated examination. The weighting of the exam will remain at 50%. Further details will be provided in due course.
    Assessment Related Requirements

    In order to pass this course, students must achieve a pass grade for the turbine engine performance laboratory.

    Assessment Detail
    • Final exam is a 3-hour long open book exam, to be conducted during the formal university examination period.

    • There will be 4 assignments in total. Three of these are individual assignments (no collaboration) and the other is a group assignment/project. These will be distributed during class and also placed on MyUni. Due dates for these assignments may be subject to change; any changes will be announced in-class, written on the assignment, and posted on MyUni at the time the assignment is first distributed.

    • The turbine engine performance laboratory is run as part of the formal Level IV laboratories.


    Unless otherwise specified, submission of assignments and laboratory reports will be made through the hand-in boxes located next to the school office on Level 2 of Engineering South. Cover-sheets should be attached to all submissions (cover-sheets located next to the submission boxes).

    Late submissions will be penalized at 50% per day late. Submissions are due at 1pm. Extensions for assignments will only be given in exceptional circumstances and a case for this with supporting documentation must be made either in writing after a lecture, submitted in hard copy to the front office (to be passed on to the lecturer), or emailed to the lecturer directly.

    Assignments will be assessed and returned within 4 weeks from submission (usually significantly less). Assignments that are marked prior to the last class will be brought to class for students to collect. Any assignments not collected in-class will be left in the assignment collection boxes next to the elevator on level 2 of Engineering South. There will be no opportunities for re-submission of work of unacceptable standard. Due to the large class size, feedback on assignments will be limited to in-class discussion resulting from questions from students.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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