Thrust chamber dynamics and propulsive performance of single-tube pulse detonation engines

Fuhua Ma, Jeong Yeol Choi, Vigor Yang

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper deals with the modeling and simulation of the thrust chamber dynamics in an airbreathing pulse detonation engine (PDE). The system under consideration includes a supersonic inlet, an air manifold, a rotary valve, a single-tube combustor, and a convergent-divergent nozzle. The analysis accommodates the full conservation equations in two-dimensional coordinates, along with a calibrated one-progress-variable chemical reaction scheme for a stoichiometric hydrogen/air mixture. The combustion and flow dynamics involved in typical PDE operations are carefully examined. In addition, a flow-path based performance prediction model is established to estimate the theoretical limit of the engine propulsive performance. Various performance loss mechanisms, including refilling process, mismatch of nozzle exit flow conditions with the ambient state, nozzle flow divergence, and internal flow dynamics, are identified and quantified. The internal flow loss, which mainly arises from the shock waves within the chamber, plays a dominant role in degrading the PDE performance. The effects of engine operating parameters and nozzle configurations on the system dynamics are also studied in depth. Results indicate the existence of an optimum operating frequency for achieving a best performance margin. For a given cycle period and purge time, the performance increases with decreasing valve close-up time in most cases. On the other hand, a larger purge time decreases the specific thrust but increases the specific impulse for a given cycle period and valve close-up time. The nozzle throat area affects both the flow expansion process and chamber dynamics, thereby exerting a much more significant influence than the other nozzle geometrical parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Event42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit - Reno, NV, United States
Duration: 2004 Jan 52004 Jan 8


Other42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityReno, NV

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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