An approach to improved credibility of CFD simulations for rocket injector design

Paul K. Tucker, Suresh Menon, Charles L. Merkle, Joseph C. Oefelein, Vigor Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

36 Citations (Scopus)


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has the potential to improve the historical rocket injector design process by simulating the sensitivity of performance and injector-driven thermal environments to the details of the injector geometry and key operational parameters. Methodical verification and validation efforts on a range of coaxial injector elements have shown the current production CFD capability must be improved in order to quantitatively impact the injector design process. This paper documents the status of an effort to understand and compare the predictive capabilities and resource requirements of a range of CFD methodologies on a set of injector model problems. Preliminary results from a steady Reynolds-Average Navier-Stokes (RANS), an unsteady Reynolds-Average Navier-Stokes (URANS) and three different Large Eddy Simulation (LES) techniques used to model a single element coaxial injector using gaseous oxygen and gaseous hydrogen propellants are presented. Initial observations are made comparing instantaneous results and corresponding time-averaged results with steady-state solutions in the near-injector flow field. Significant differences in the flow fields exist, as expected, and are discussed. An important preliminary result is the identification of a fundamental mixing mechanism, accounted for by URANS and LES, but missing in the steady RANS methodology. Since propellant mixing is the core injector function, this mixing process may prove to have a profound effect on the ability to more correctly simulate injector performance and resulting thermal environments. Issues important to unifying the basis for future comparison such as solution initialization, required run time and grid resolution are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollection of Technical Papers - 43rd AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Event43rd AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference - Cincinnati, OH, United States
Duration: 2007 Jul 82007 Jul 11

Publication series

NameCollection of Technical Papers - 43rd AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference


Conference43rd AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCincinnati, OH

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science


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