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Converging-Diverging Nozzle

David Lewin A converging-diverging (CD) nozzle is a nozzle that accelerates a fluid to supersonic speeds (speeds greater than the speed of sound through that fluid). In order to fully understand what this means, each piece should be broken down and defined itself. The final picture will become clearer as the pieces are put together. The most important ideas to consider are: Subsonic Nozzles Supersonic Speed Compressible Flow

Subsonic Nozzles A subsonic nozzle is just a regular nozzle, used to increase the flow velocity of a fluid. These are generally used at the end of garden hoses and fire extinguishers. A nozzle works by decreasing the area the fluid is allowed to pass through as it comes out, forcing it to come out faster. Everyone has done this at some point, most likely pressing their thumb against the outlet of a hose to try and make the water go further. That is the simplest and most common example of an idea that many take to be quite complex. Mathematically, this is proved by the conservation of mass. This proof is commonly used in thermodynamics classes. The volume of fluid that passes through is defined as V = A*v*t Where A is the area of tube the fluid is flowing through, and v is the velocity is it flowing at, and t is a finite amount of time that we have measured. The mass that flows through is simple the volume times the density, usually defined by rho, here we will use r. m = r*V*A*t When we take the derivative of this equation, we find that the mass flow rate in (kg/s) is: m(dot) = r*V*A If we set the mass flow rate coming into the nozzle equal to mass flow rate coming out (to obey the conservation of mass law), then we find that if the area of the outlet increases, the velocity must decrease, and vice versa. Density can be treated as a constant, and is insignificant when doing this.

Supersonic Speed An object is considered to be at a supersonic speed when it is traveling faster than the speed of sound of the medium it is flowing through (also known as the local speed of sound). This is directly correlated to Mach numbers, which measure the ratio of the velocity measured to the local speed of sound. Therefore, anything with a Mach number less than one is at subsonic speed, while a Mach number of one means its traveling at sonic speed. At sonic speed, a shock wave is formed, as the sound waves cannot get away from the object and get crushed together. This is why a sonic boom is heard when an object at sonic or supersonic speeds pass by. Finally, any Mach number greater than one means the object is moving at a supersonic speed. At this speed, the sound waves trail the moving object in what is called a cone of influence. Sound Waves at Different Speeds

This is how sound waves behave at different speeds in relation to the local speed of sound. The sound waves squashing together to create a shock wave and the cone of influence are both clearly visible. Why is it important to accelerate a gas to supersonic speeds? This is most applicable to rocket jets, which propel very heavy objects out of the Earths gravitational well and into space. Thanks to Newtons laws of physics, we know that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, the faster we can shoot fuel out of the rocket, the faster the rocket will go.

Compressible Flow This is one of the more complex ideas that a CD nozzle relies on. The most important thing to understand is that as a fluid travels through a tube or pipe, the density it is flowing at cannot be significantly changed. This means it is incompressible, and is the underlying idea behind a subsonic nozzle. Once the traveling fluid exceeds Mach 0.3, the effects of compressibility allow different things to happen, such as significant changes in temperature and pressure, changes in density, and shock waves. A Diagram of a CD Nozzle

This is what a CD nozzle looks like, an hourglass shaped tube. As shown, the nozzle connects a tank or chamber at some pressure to either the surroundings (ambient) or another tank. When connected to the surroundings, it is a rocket jet. Why the Nozzle Must Diverge as well as Converge The most pertinent question right now is, why do we need a CD nozzle when we can continue to decrease the area until supersonic flow is reached? Eventually, the mass flow rate through the smaller end of a nozzle will reach its maximum possible value, creating a bottleneck. When a nozzle reaches this point, it is considered to be choked. Unfortunately, a fluid cannot be accelerated to supersonic speeds in this way. In order to accelerate the mass further, the gas must be allowed to expand, decreasing the pressure and temperature rapidly. The local speed of sound relies on the temperature, and the exit speed of the gas out of the nozzle relies on the local speed of sound, so all of these aspects must be considered in the design of a nozzle meant to accelerate a gas to supersonic speeds.

Design Aspects There are a few very key components to designing an effective CD nozzle. The first is what size to make the throat, the thinnest part of the nozzle. This is important because the size of the throat will determine how large the mass flow rate can get before the nozzle becomes choked. In this way, the size of the throat effectively sets the mass flow rate through the nozzle. Next, the area of the exit is important because it will determine how much the fluid is allowed to expand. This expansion will then determine the Mach number of the exiting flow. It also determines the exit pressure, temperature, and velocity of fluid coming out. So in order to control how much mass is moving and how fast it moves, the ratio of the exit to the throat is the key design component. Putting it All Together Now that we know the underlying concepts and basic design of CD nozzles, we can take a look at what actually happens. Following the mass flow rate equation defined in the beginning, the converging section of the nozzle can accelerate the fluid until it becomes choked at the throat, due to the decrease in area. At the throat, the fluid is moving at Mach 1. As it passes into the diverging section, it then is allowed to expand. This expansion at a high Mach number means the flow is compressible, and the density changes. Also, the temperature is decreased, which decreases the local speed of sound. The lower speed of sound gives the flow a higher Mach number. A higher Mach number leads to a shock wave in the nozzle, which increases the velocity of the fluid even further. All this leads to a very high velocity coming out the back of the CD nozzle into the surroundings, propelling a rocket to a velocity that allows it to escape the Earths gravitational pull.