Fathoming the Processes inside Rocket Combustion Chambers

Principal Investigator:
Peter Gerlinger

Institut für Verbrennungstechnik der Luft- und Raumfahrt, Universität Stuttgart (Germany)

Local Project ID:

HPC Platform used:
Hazel Hen of HLRS

Date published:

Cryogenic Rocket Combustion

Rocket propulsion systems like the European Vulcain II engine have been successfully used to deliver payloads, such as telecommunication and earth observation satellites, into space for several decades. Yet, the complex processes in rocket combustion chambers are still not fully understood. These devices have to sustain massive thermal and mechanical loads due to the high temperatures and pressures of the combustion processes. Furthermore these propulsion systems are very sensitive to thermo-acoustic instabilities which may be strong and cause to the destruction of the combustion chamber. For further improvements or reusability of the combustion chamber, as done by SpaceX with their Falcon 9 rocket and Merlin engine, a better understanding of the processes is indispensable. By 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.

Research topics at the IVLR include combustion instabilities, new fuel compositions (e.g. methane), thermal load prediction improvements of the combustion chamber structure, modelling of turbulence-chemistry interaction, multi-injector interaction and trans- or supercritical real-gas flows (liquid-like oxygen).

For their investigations the IVLR scientists employ, develop and improve sophisticated turbulence and combustion models that are accurate but computationally time consuming and therefore require the utilization of modern high performance computers such as the petascale system Hazel Hen of the HLRS Stuttgart.

Scientific Contact:

apl. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gerlinger
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Verbrennungstechnik der Luft- und Raumfahrt
Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, D-70569 Stuttgart
e-mail: peter.gerlinger[at] 

Tags: Universität Stuttgart HLRS CSE