The Design and Development of a High Enthalpy, Hypervelocity Expansion Facility

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Marcotte, Evan Kelly
expansion tunnel; aerospace engineering; facility design; hypersonics
thesis / dissertation description
Hypersonic vehicle development is an important problem of current national interest. Many of the key challenges, such as heat flux, are beyond our current predictive capability. Hence, experimentation is required to help build knowledge and provide validation for new modeling. Providing ground test facilities that produce realistic flight enthalpies has proven to be a major challenge. Hypervelocity expansion tunnels, which use unsteady shock and expansion processes to introduce enthalpy and kinetic energy into gaseous flows, offer a unique and brief view into true flight-like environments. Under Navy support, Texas A&M University is developing a new large-scale (1.0 m exit diameter) hypervelocity research tunnel (HXT). The facility will be housed in the Aerospace Engineering Department National Aerothermochemistry Laboratory. The operating conditions for the facility will range between Mach 4 and 14 (1-11 MJ/kg), with a unit Reynolds number range of 105-108/m. This thesis outlines the overall design of the dual mode expansion/shock tube facility. The topics to be discussed include the requirements, operating principle, gasdynamic processes, mechanical design and manufacturing, instrumentation, status of the facility construction, and the roadmap to operation