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Impulse Generation by Detonation Tubes


Cooper, Marcia Ann (2004) Impulse Generation by Detonation Tubes. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/97GS-4N79.


Impulse generation with gaseous detonation requires conversion of chemical energy into mechanical energy. This conversion process is well understood in rocket engines where the high pressure combustion products expand through a nozzle generating high velocity exhaust gases. The propulsion community is now focusing on advanced concepts that utilize non-traditional forms of combustion like detonation. Such a device is called a pulse detonation engine in which laboratory tests have proven that thrust can be achieved through continuous cyclic operation. Because of poor performance of straight detonation tubes compared to conventional propulsion systems and the success of using nozzles on rocket engines, the effect of nozzles on detonation tubes is being investigated. Although previous studies of detonation tube nozzles have suggested substantial benefits, up to now there has been no systematic investigations over a range of operating conditions and nozzle configurations. As a result, no models predicting the impulse when nozzles are used exist. This lack of data has severely limited the development and evaluation of models and simulations of nozzles on pulse detonation engines.

The first experimental investigation measuring impulse by gaseous detonation in plain tubes and tubes with nozzles operating in varying environment pressures is presented. Converging, diverging, and converging-diverging nozzles were tested to determine the effect of divergence angle, nozzle length, and volumetric fill fraction on impulse. The largest increases in specific impulse, 72% at an environment pressure of 100 kPa and 43% at an environment pressure of 1.4 kPa, were measured with the largest diverging nozzle tested that had a 12 degree half angle and was 0.6 m long. Two regimes of nozzle operation that depend on the environment pressure are responsible for these increases and were first observed from these data. To augment this experimental investigation, all data in the literature regarding partially filled detonation tubes was compiled and analyzed with models investigating concepts of energy conservation and unsteady gas dynamics. A model to predict the specific impulse was developed partially filled tubes. The role of finite chemical kinetics in detonation products was examined through numerical simulations of the flow in nonsteady expansion waves.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:detonation; impulse; pulse detonation engine
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Shepherd, Joseph E.
Group:Explosion Dynamics Laboratory
Thesis Committee:
  • Shepherd, Joseph E. (chair)
  • Goodwin, David G.
  • Hornung, Hans G.
  • Hunt, Melany L.
Defense Date:20 May 2004
Non-Caltech Author Email:macoope (AT)
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05252004-164627
Persistent URL:
Cooper, Marcia Ann0000-0003-0831-6109
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2047
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:26 May 2004
Last Modified:15 Jan 2021 23:22

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