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R. J. Stalker et al- Effects of hydrogen-air non-equilibrium chemistry on the performance of a model scramjet thrust nozzle

R. J. Stalker et al- Effects of hydrogen-air non-equilibrium chemistry on the performance of a model scramjet thrust nozzle

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Two aspects of hydrogen-air non-equilibrium chemistry related toscramjets are nozzle freezing and a process called ‘kinetic after- burning’ which involves continuation of combustion after expansionin the nozzle. These effects were investigated numerically and exper-imentally with a model scramjet combustion chamber and thrustnozzle combination. The overall model length was 0
5m, while precombustion Mach numbers of 3
3 and precombustiontemperatures ranging from 740K to 1,400K were involved. Nozzlefreezing was investigated at precombustion pressures of 190kPa andhigher, and it was found that the nozzle thrusts were within 6% of values obtained from finite rate numerical calculations, which werewithin 7% of equilibrium calculations. When precombustion pres-sures of 70kPa or less were used, kinetic afterburning was found to be partly responsible for thrust production, in both the numericalcalculations and the experiments. Kinetic afterburning offers ameans of extending the operating Mach number range of a fixedgeometry scramjet.
mass fraction of species ‘
mass fraction contour increments
nozzle thrust (N)
stagnation enthalpy (MJ/kg)
 pressure (kPa)
maximum combustion pressure (kPa)
 precombustion pressure (kPa)
reservoir pressure (kPa)
temperature (K)
streamwise distance (m.)
cross stream distance (m.)
ratio of specific heatsøhydrogen equivalence ratio
 precombustion conditions
reservoir conditions
The theoretical promise of supersonic combustion ramjets (i.e.scramjets) as a means of high speed flight propulsion has beenknown for some decades
and has stimulated research into theoperation of the components of scramjets. One such component,which is responsible for producing a major part of the overall enginethrust, is the thrust nozzle that follows the combustion chamber. Inthis nozzle, thrust is generated via the pressure distribution inducedon the nozzle surfaces by expansion of the combustion gases. Thecombustion and expansion of these gases may take place so rapidlythat they are unable to approach, or are unable to maintain, chemicalequilibrium, with resulting effects on the pressure distribution in thethrust nozzle. This paper reports an investigation of such non-equi-librium effects in combusting hydrogen-air mixtures.The phenomenon known as ‘freezing’ occurs when a chemicallyreacting gas undergoing a rapid expansion in a nozzle from an equi-librium state, is unable to adjust its composition rapidly enough tomaintain equilibrium, and the composition of the gas ‘freezes’ atsome point in the nozzle expansion process. This implies that theenergy release accompanying the formation of equilibrium productspecies does not continue, and the thrust generated by the nozzleflow is reduced.An early study
of freezing of hydrogen-air chemical recombina-tion in a ramjet thrust nozzle, where the expansion takes place froma low subsonic Mach number, showed that if equilibrium flow ismaintained past the low supersonic area ratios the loss in thrustcaused by chemical freezing is not exceedingly high. In later numer-ical studies of scramjet thrust nozzles at high flight Mach numbers,where the nozzle expansion takes place from supersonic Mach
2004 575
Paper No. 2780
. Manuscript received 5 August 2002, revised version received 26 May 2004, accepted 29 September 2004.
Effects of hydrogen-air non-equilibriumchemistry on the performance of a modelscramjet thrust nozzle
R. J. Stalker, N. K. Truong, R. G. Morgan and A. Paull
Division of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of QueenslandBrisbane, Australia
numbers, it was shown that although molecular vibration was inequilibrium throughout the nozzle, the chemical composition wasnot
, that at precombustion pressures of the order of an atmos- phere there was little recombination in the nozzle
and that, inspite of this, the lack of complete recombination yielded an overallthrust which was only 1% less than the value for an equilibriumexpansion
. Also, a study of thrust loss mechanisms in scramjets
showed that nozzle freezing represented only a small fraction of the overall losses. Thus the freezing phenomenon is not expectedto have a substantial effect on nozzle performance.However, another non-equilibrium phenomenon can occur in ascramjet thrust nozzle, namely the process described here as‘kinetic afterburning’. This takes place when the combustion reac-tions are unable to approach chemical equilibrium in the combus-tion chamber before they encounter the falling pressure andtemperature in the nozzle. The resultant quenching effect mayinfluence some of the combustion reactions more than others but,although the pressure distribution in the nozzle may be changed,energy release leading to thrust may still take place in the nozzle.Kinetic afterburning differs from conventional afterburning, wherethrust is produced by adding fuel to the oxidizer-rich exhaustnozzle flow from a gas turbine. In kinetic afterburning, fuel-oxidizer mixing and the initial stages of the combustion reactionstake place upstream of the exhaust nozzle, but the finite timerequired to complete the combustion reactions and produce energyrelease is exploited to allow energy release and thrust production totake place in the nozzle. This can be advantageous in avoiding high peak pressures in the combustion chamber.The possibility of kinetic afterburning was suggested by a studyof the chemical kinetics of the ignition process in hydrogen/air mixtures
, where it was pointed out that, after initial production of free radicals, the subsequent ignition process was less dependenton temperature than on the presence of those free radicals. Thissuggests that combustion chamber reactions may continue in thelower temperature regions created by a nozzle expansion down-stream of the combustion chamber, leading to heat release in thenozzle. It is also believed that this effect may be responsible for a phenomenon observed in a previous paper (see Fig. 4 of Ref. 9)where, in a study of thrust production in a model scramjet,evidence of heat release in the nozzle was provided by noting thatthe difference between fuel-on and fuel-off thrust rose morerapidly than the pressure rise due to combustion in the combustionchamber.The present investigation was undertaken to obtain a better understanding of the non-equilibrium effects in a scramjet nozzle by comparing numerical models with experimental results. After describing and discussing the experimental arrangements and thenumerical program employed, the paper goes on to separatelyconsider nozzle freezing and kinetic afterburning. Consideringeach of these phenomena in turn then leads on to the conclusion.
2.1The shock tunnel
The experiments were conducted in the free piston shock tunnel T3at the Australian National University, in Canberra
. This shock tunnel employed a shock tube 76mm in diameter and 6m long, withdriver gas heating accomplished by a free piston in a tube 300mm. indiameter and 6m. long. It was operated at stagnation enthalpy levelsand test times which ensured that the test flow was not affected bydriver gas contamination
. A contoured axisymmetric nozzle witha 25mm diameter throat and a 92mm exit diameter, yielding a nozzlearea ratio of 13
5, was located at the downstream end of the shock tube, and produced a test section Mach number of 3
3 ± 0
2.2The models
A scaled outline of the basic model is shown in Fig. 1(a) and wasused in this configuration for the test series B, outlined below. Themodel was two-dimensional, with an internal width throughout of 50mm., and consisted of a constant area combustion chamber, 25mmhigh, which extended for 175mm downstream of the hydrogen injec-tion station. At the combustor exit, one 50mm wide surface of theduct was deflected to form a simple thrust nozzle, and the deflectedsurface was instrumented with PCB piezoelectric pressure trans-ducers located as shown. Two transducers were also located asshown to monitor the pressure rise in the combustion chamber, and afurther two transducers were located 31mm and 68mm downstreamof the intake to monitor the precombustion pressure. The upstreamtransducer was preferred for this role, as it was less susceptible to possible boundary layer effects. The model was supplied with testgas directly from the shock tunnel nozzle for the configuration of Fig. 1(a), implying that it was operated in the ‘direct connect’ mode.The fuel injection strut which was 4
7mm thick, was locatedmidway between the upper and lower surfaces of the duct, fully span-ning the duct width, thus ensuring that an essentially two dimensionalflow was produced. This was checked by sample pressure measure-ments across the duct. The leading edge of the strut was a symmetricwedge of 20º included angle, and was located sufficiently far upstreamof the inlet that the leading edge wave system did not interfere withthe inlet leading edge. Hydrogen was injected, at nominal Machnumbers ranging from 1
2 to 1
9, from a room temperature reservoir through a two-dimensional supersonic nozzle with a 1
6mm throat,which spanned the full width of the blunt trailing edge of the injectionstrut. Precalibration allowed the hydrogen mass flow to be determined by monitoring the hydrogen reservoir pressure.In order to increase the precombustion pressure for the test series A,as outlined below, the model configuration was altered by the additionof a simple intake, as shown in Fig. 1(b). This consisted of two opposingramps, each set at an angle of 5º, which were spaced to ensure that thereflected shock waves passed outside of the inlet, as shown in the figure.These shocks reduced the Mach number to 2
9 ± 0
2.3Thrust nozzle
The nozzle configuration was chosen to allow the effects of non-equilibrium chemistry to be adequately represented in the flow,whilst being easy to manufacture. For structural reasons, a scramjetnozzle should be as short as possible, whilst maintaining near optimum thrust performance, implying that nozzle expansion angles
576 T
Figure 1. Model configurations.
will tend to be as large as this performance criterion will allow. Inthe present experiments, shock tunnel test section constraints limitedthe expansion angle to 15° with the chosen nozzle length. Using thefinite rate chemistry computer code described below, the variation of thrust with expansion angle, for the chosen nozzle length, has beencalculated with test conditions such that chemical equilibrium isachieved within the combustion chamber length. The reults are presented in Fig. 2, and indicate that a 15° expansion angleapproaches the optimum angle for thrust production.The pressure field with an expansion angle of 15° is also shown inFig. 2, with constant pressure contours displayed at equal intervalsof pressure, and the ratio of pressure to the precombustion pressure,
, displayed at the upstream and downstream contours of the nozzle pressure field. The contours of pressure were found to be essentiallyidentical with those computed for an equilibrium expansion, indi-cating that approximate estimates of the thrust could be obtained byusing a perfect gas expansion with
= 1
25. This value of 
is notsurprising when it is remembered that nitrogen, which does not take part in the reactions, constitutes the major mass component of theflow. Thus, using the ratio between the pressures on the upstreamand the downstream nozzle pressure contours of Fig. 2 to obtain aneffective nozzle area ratio of 3
8, it was found that this nozzle produced approximately 60% of the thrust that would be expectedfrom a nozzle with an area ratio of 20. This latter value is typical of those used in theoretical scramjet studies (e.g. Ref. 7). Hence, as theeffects of non-equilibrium chemistry are expected to occur at lownozzle area ratios (e.g. Ref. 3), this nozzle may be expected to provide a reasonable representation of both the nature and themagnitude of the effects of non-equilibrium chemistry.
The pressure transducers mounted in the model had natural frequen-cies ranging from 250kHz to 500kHz. The transducer outputs weremultiplexed and recorded by a Biomation 2805 M transient digitaldata recorder with slave unit, recording a complete data set everysixteen microseconds. An Apple personal computer was then used to process and display the data after each test. The output from thehydrogen pressure monitoring transducer was displayed on aTektronix CRO, and was constant for the duration of the test flow.
2.5Test conditions
The test conditions were obtained by using measurements of theshock speed and the shock tube filling pressure to obtain conditionsimmediately after shock reflection, and then assuming an isentropicexpansion to the post shock nozzle reservoir pressure, measured67mm from the end of the shock tube. A one dimensional equilib-rium nozzle expansion from the reservoir condition to the measured pressure at the station 31mm downstream of the model inlet thenyielded the test conditions. To ensure that these test conditionswould apply to the same element of air, account was taken of thetime required for passage of the air from the reservoir to the inletmeasurement station, and from the inlet station to the scramjetnozzle.Two groups of tests were conducted, and are referred to as SeriesA and Series B. Series A was related to nozzle freezing and, as itwas necessary to generate precombustion pressures which wouldallow essentially complete combustion in the combustion chamber,this series was conducted with the intake ramps attached to themodel, as shown in Fig. 1(b). Series B was related to kinetic after- burning and the model was used in the basic configuration, as shownin Fig. 1(a), in order to generate the lower precombustion pressureswhich were necessary to avoid significant levels of combustion inthe combustion chamber.The test period was defined by using records of the nozzle thrust,normalised with respect to the shock tunnel nozzle reservoir pres-sure. The nozzle thrust was obtained through integration of themeasured pressures along the nozzle, using a linear interpolation for the pressure between transducer stations. Typical records of thenormalised thrust are shown in Fig. 3, where the normalised thrust isseen to rise until it reaches a ‘plateau’ level, where it displays rela-tively small variations with time. The test time is taken to occur during this ‘plateau’ period. The normalised thrust for Series Bduring the ‘plateau’ period is not as steady as that for Series A but,even in this case, the normalised thrust varies by only ±8% duringthe test period. During the test period the flow passes a distance of atleast three times the model length, which is sufficient to be assuredof quasi-steady nozzle flow.Argon and helium, at various mixture ratios, were used for theshock tube driver gas as a means of delaying driver gas contamina-tion of the test flow. The decay of shock tunnel nozzle reservoir  pressure in Fig. 3(b) is associated with the use of helium alone asdriver gas, while the nearly constant pressure of Fig. 3(a) is associ-ated with the use of argon. Because the hydrogen injection pressureremained constant during a test, the decay in Fig. 3(b) represents anincrease in the equivalence ratio over the test time, an increase whichis exploited in matching numerical and experimental test conditions.
 Numerical analysis was undertaken using the program SupersonicHydrogen Air Reaction Calculator (SHARC)
. This programutilizes the two-dimensional parabolised Navier-Stokes equations tosimulate supersonic mixing and combustion, solving these equations by employing a finite difference scheme developed by Patankar andSpalding
. The solution is implemented through a space marchingscheme, and the pressure field is calculated by the algorithm SemiImplicit Pressure Linked Equations (SIMPLE)
. A two equation
model was used to simulate the turbulence in the flow, withconstants as in Ref. 12.For the simulations involving non-equilibrium chemistry, the basic NASP scheme
for finite rate hydrogen-oxygen reactionchemistry was used, with nitrogen treated as an inert diluent. Thisreaction scheme is shown in Table 1. Strictly, to be used for hydrogen-air reactions, this scheme should include the effect of nitrogen oxides, but sample combustor calculations in whichhydrogen was premixed with air showed no significant difference inthe combustor pressure rise when the reactions involving nitrogen
Figure 2. Effect of nozzle angle on thrust, showing typical flowpattern.at 15 degrees, with pressure contours (dimensions shown arein metres).

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