Wall Angle Effects on Nozzle Separation Stability

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A. Aghababaie; N. Taylor (2010), JBIS, 63, 162-170

Refcode: 2010.63.162
Keywords: Nozzle, altitude compensating, supersonic separation, experimental demonstration

The presence of asymmetric side loads due to unstable separation within over-expanded rocket nozzles is well documented. Although progress has been made in developing understanding of this phenomenon through numerical and experimental means, the causes of these side loads have yet to be fully explained. The hypothesis examined within this paper is that there is a relationship between nozzle wall angle at the point of separation, and the stability of the flow separation. This was achieved through an experimental investigation of a series of subscale over-expanded conical nozzles with half-angles of 8.3°, 10.4°, 12.6° and 14.8°. All had overall area ratios of 16:1, with separation occurring at approximately half the nozzle length (i.e. area ration of 4:1) under an overall pressure ratio of approximately 7:1 using air as the working fluid. The structure of exhaust flow was observed and analysed by use of an optimised Schlieren visualisation system, coupled with a high speed digital camera. The 12.6° and 14.8° nozzles exhaust flow were seen to be stable throughout the recorded test period of 10 seconds. However, a small number of large fluctuations in the jet angle were seen to be present within the flowfield of the 10.4° nozzle, occurring at apparently random intervals through the test period. The flowfield of the 8.3° nozzle demonstrated near continuous, large angle deviations in the jet, with flow patterns containing thickened shear layers and apparent reattachment to the wall, something not previously identified in conical nozzles. These results were used to design a truncated ideal contour with an exit angle of over 10 degrees, in order to assess the possibility of designing conventional nozzles that separate stably over a wide range of pressure ratios. These tests were successful, potentially providing a simpler, cheaper alternative to altitude compensating nozzle devices. However, more work determining the nature of the separation and its causes is required.

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