Study of Solid Rocket Motor Liquid Breakup Process

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Sinkovec, Bryan; Stefik, Michael
article description
This project will present research which attempts to characterize the average droplet size of a two-phase flow of water and air. This two-phase flow simulates how liquid aluminum propellant will behave during combustion. During combustion, the aluminum is oxidized into alumina (Al2O3). Under particular flow conditions this alumina can solidify and attach to the inside of the rocket nozzle, which can cause a decrease in performance and fuel efficiency. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) data will be obtained using the commercial software package STAR CCM+ to help predict how the simulated water and air flow will behave. Experimental data is gathered by taking high quality images of the two-phase air and water flow enclosed by a physical horizontal test chamber. These images are taken at speeds of 2000 and 5000 frames per second (fps) with a Photron UX-50 high-speed camera. CFD data is performed under the same conditions, and images from the simulations are selected for theoretical analysis. The experimental and CFD data sets will be processed using a MATLAB program to determine the diameter of each particle within the test chamber, and this information is used to calculate the average droplet size. This experimental average droplet sizes can then be compared to the CFD average droplet sizes to see if the CFD models are an accurate representation of how the two-phase flow behaves under real world conditions. A valid comparison will ultimately lead to an accurate way of predicting how a two-phase flow will behave during engine combustion.