Supersonic flow separation with application to rocket engine nozzles

University dissertation from Stockholm : Mekanik

Abstract: The increasing demand for higher performance in rocketlaunchers promotes the development of nozzles with higherperformance, which basically is achieved by increasing theexpansion ratio. However, this may lead to flow separation andensuing instationary, asymmetric forces, so-called side-loads,which may present life-limiting constraints on both the nozzleitself and other engine components. Substantial gains can bemade in the engine performance if this problem can be overcome,and hence different methods of separation control have beensuggested. However, none has so far been implemented in fullscale, due to the uncertainties involved in modeling andpredicting the flow phenomena involved.In the present work the causes of unsteady and unsymmetricalflow separation and resulting side-loads in rocket enginenozzles are investigated. This involves the use of acombination of analytical, numerical and experimental methods,which all are presented in the thesis. A main part of the workis based on sub-scale testing of model nozzles operated withair. Hence, aspects on how to design sub-scale models that areable to capture the relevant physics of full-scale rocketengine nozzles are highlighted. Scaling laws like thosepresented in here are indispensable for extracting side-loadcorrelations from sub-scale tests and applying them tofull-scale nozzles.Three main types of side-load mechanisms have been observedin the test campaigns, due to: (i) intermittent and randompressure fluctuations, (ii) transition in separation patternand (iii) aeroelastic coupling. All these three types aredescribed and exemplified by test results together withanalysis. A comprehensive, up-to-date review of supersonic flowseparation and side-loads in internal nozzle flows is givenwith an in-depth discussion of different approaches forpredicting the phenomena. This includes methods for predictingshock-induced separation, models for predicting side-loadlevels and aeroelastic coupling effects. Examples are presentedto illustrate the status of various methods, and theiradvantages and shortcomings are discussed.A major part of the thesis focus on the fundamentalshock-wave turbulent boundary layer interaction (SWTBLI) and aphysical description of the phenomenon is given. Thisdescription is based on theoretical concepts, computationalresults and experimental observation, where, however, emphasisis placed on the rocket-engineering perspective. This workconnects the industrial development of rocket engine nozzles tothe fundamental research of the SWTBLI phenomenon and shows howthese research results can be utilized in real applications.The thesis is concluded with remarks on active and passive flowcontrol in rocket nozzles and directions of futureresearch.The present work was performed at VAC's Space PropulsionDivision within the framework of European spacecooperation.Keywords:turbulent, boundary layer, shock wave,interaction, overexpanded,rocket nozzle, flow separation,control, side-load, experiments, models, review.

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