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Fathoming the Processes Inside Rocket Combustion Chambers

At the Institute of Combustion Technology for Aerospace Engineering (IVLR) at the University of Stuttgart a team of scientists numerically investigates reacting flows at conditions typical for modern space transportation systems. The research is integrated into the programs SFB/TRR-40 (Technological Foundations for the Design of Thermally and Mechanically Highly Loaded Components of Future Space Transportation Systems) and GRK 1095/2 (Aero-Thermodynamic Design of a Scramjet Propulsion System) that are funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Detailed Problems of Cryogenic Rocket Combustion

Fathoming the Processes Inside Rocket Combustion ChambersIsocontours of temperature reveal the three-dimensional character and strong convolution of the flame in this model rocket combustor with single shear-coaxial injector.
Source: © Universität Stuttgart, IVLR

Rocket propulsion systems like the European Vulcain engine have been successfully used to deliver payloads such as telecommunication and earth observation satellites to space for several decades. Yet the complex processes in rocket combustion chambers are still not fully understood. Through the use of modern supercomputers it is possible to gain detailed insights into the complex phenomena like multi-phase flow (liquid oxygen), turbulence and chemical reactions, as well as their interaction. For their investigations the IVLR scientists employ, develop and improve sophisticated turbulence and combustion models that are very accurate but computationally time consuming and therefore require the utilization of modern high performance computers such as petascale system Hermit of GCS centre HLRS Stuttgart.

Combustion Simulations of Hypersonic Airbreathing Engines

A promising propulsion concept designated for atmospheric flights at hypersonic speed, which is 6 times the speed of sound and faster, is called Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or “Scramjet”. In contrast to conventional space transportation systems these engines capture the air and use it as oxidizer for combustion. Therefore no oxygen has to be transported and the payload may be increased significantly. Due to the extreme operating conditions only very detailed, three-dimensional simulations, which require large computational grids and thus high amounts of computing power, enable a realistic reproduction of essential processes in the combustor like mixing of fuel and air, ignition and flame stabilization at supersonic conditions.

Fathoming the Processes Inside Rocket Combustion ChambersIsocontours of temperature in a complete scramjet model.
Source: © Universität Stuttgart, IVLR

PD Dr.-Ing. Peter Gerlinger
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Verbrennungstechnik der Luft- und Raumfahrt
Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, D-70569 Stuttgart
e-mail: peter.gerlinger@dlr.de

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