Turbulent flame dynamics of homogeneous solid propellant in a rocket motor

Sourabh Apte, Vigor Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


A comprehensive numerical analysis has been conducted to study the combustion of a double-base homogeneous propellant in a rocket motor. Emphasis was placed on the motor internal flow development and its influence on propellant combustion. The formulation is based on the Favre-averaged, filtered equations for the conservation laws and takes into account finite-rate chemical kinetics and variable thermophysical properties. Turbulence closure is obtained using the large-eddy-simulation technique. The contribution of large energy-carrying structures to mass, momentum, and energy transfer is computed explicitly, and the effect of small scales of turbulence is modeled. The governing equations and associated boundary conditions are solved using a time-accurate, semi-implicit Runge-Kutta scheme coupled with a fourth-order central difference algorithm for spatial discretization. The motor internal flowfield is basically determined by the balance between the inertia force and the pressure gradient arising from the mass injection at the propellant surface. The temporal evolution of the vorticity field shows a laminar upstream region, a transition zone in the midsection of the chamber, and a fully developed turbulent regime further downstream. The turbulent mixing proceeds at a rate faster than chemical reactions, and the flame stretch is strong enough to regard propellant combustion as a well-stirred reactor. The combustion wave in the laminar region exhibits a two-stage structure consisting of a primary flame, a dark zone, and a secondary luminous flame. The enhanced energy and mass transport in the turbulent region partially merges the primary and secondary flames, thereby raising the temperatures in the dark zone. In the present study, the smoother axial velocity gradient and vertical flow convection prevent turbulence from deeply penetrating into the primary flame zone. The turbulence energy spectra indicate dominant harmonics in a frequency range capable of triggering combustion instabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-910
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Event30th International Symposium on Combustion - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: 2004 Jul 252004 Jul 30

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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