Combustion Dynamics of Liquid Droplets and Turbulent Jets Relevant to Rocket Engines
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Combustion Dynamics of Liquid Droplets and Turbulent Jets Relevant to Rocket Engines


These experiments examined the reactive processes involving nanoparicle laden liquid droplets, and turbulent jet flames as two separate sets of studies. The first part of this dissertation (Chapters 2 and 3) deals with the combustion of ethanol liquid droplets loaded with nano particulate additives using different droplet formation methods. For this study, an apparatus at the Energy and Propulsion Research Laboratory at UCLA was used to keep the droplet in a quiescent environment. Three different types of droplet combustion experiments were performed, involving: (I) the classic single droplet suspended from a quartz fiber, (II) a single droplet suspended from a quartz capillary, (III) a burning droplet that has continual fuel deliver to sustain the droplet for longer periods of time during the combustion process. Two alternative nanoparticles were explored to demonstrate the effect of energetic additives: reactive nano aluminum (nAl) and inert nano silicon dioxide (nSiO2), each having nominal average diameters of 80 nm. Simultaneous high speed visible and OH* chemiluminescence images were taken to determine the shape of the droplet over time and hence the burning rate constant (K), flame standoff distance, and mean OH* chemiluminescence intensity with varying particulate concentrations. Visible imaging showed particle/vapor ejections and jetting in continuously fed droplet experiments, while rod-suspended burning droplets showed limited particle ejection, usually towards the end of the droplet lifetime. The nSiO2-laden, rod-suspended droplets formed a porous, shell-like structure resembling the shape of a droplet at higher nSiO2 concentrations, in contrast to smaller residue structures left for nAl-laden droplets. A systematic increase in the burning rate constant was observed as the loading concentration of nAl was increased from 1wt%-6wt%. The droplet with continual fuel delivery had the greatest improvement in K of 13% over the pure fuel value. For nSiO2, the continuously fed droplet showed the greatest increase of 5% at 1 wt% loading concentrations, and no consistent trend was observed for nSiO2, likely due to the large shell-like residue structures in the latter stages of combustion. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of particle residue revealed additional insights.The second part of this dissertation (Chapters 4 and 5) studied reacting gaseous turbulent jets in a newly constructed experiment at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RQR) located at Edwards Air Force base. This experimental study aimed to characterize the coupling of an acoustic field with a turbulent gaseous methane nonpremixed flame under atmospheric pressure conditions. Two separate injection configurations were examined: one that involved a classic single methane jet surrounded by a minimal velocity oxidizer co-flow and a second coaxial jet configuration with annular oxidizer flow and the same low-velocity co-flow. The different jets were placed within an acoustic waveguide in which standing waves could be created using several speakers. The reacting jets could thus be situated at either a pressure node or a pressure anti-node location. High-speed Schlieren and OH* chemiluminescence images recorded the near field behavior of the flame under both unforced and acoustically forced conditions. High-speed imaging showed two different phenomena associated with these standing waves. When the flame was forced while situated at a pressure node, a sinuous oscillatory response of the flame was observed, in addition to transverse oscillations of the center fuel jet, which shortened the intact fuel core length. The flame “flattened” into an ellipsoidal shape in the direction of the acoustic waves. Conversely, at a pressure anti-node, the coupling of the acoustics and flame gave rise to an axisymmetric response (puff-like oscillations), which prompted the flame to become unstable at the anchoring region. This could lead to periodic liftoff or permanent flame liftoff. A receptivity study for a methane jet at Reynolds number of 5,300 and an ambient oxygen concentration of 40\% showed that the reacting jet was able to respond at the frequency of the unsteady acoustic field for a range of frequencies, but with a diminishing response of the flame for both the pressure node and the pressure anti-node under high frequency excitation. Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD) analysis was able to extract mode shapes and frequencies based on pixel intensity fluctuations. For the cases of pressure node forcing, this analysis method illustrated the different modes of flame oscillation, in many cases which were similar to corresponding low Reynolds number fuel jet experiments with pressure node excitation conducted at UCLA. A forcing susceptibility diagram was created to map the three different anchoring stability regimes the flame experienced under pressure anti-node forcing, demonstrating the need for higher amplitude excitation required for the flame to lift off when forced at higher frequency pressure anti-node conditions. As an extension to the single jet, the shear coaxial jet configuration kept the center fuel and surrounding oxidizer co-flow constant. Only the outer annular oxidizer flowrate was varied, with annulus-to-inner jet velocity ratios ranging from R = 0.05 to 0.3, to investigate its impact on the flame's ability to respond to the acoustics. In the absence of acoustic excitation, the coaxial jet did demonstrate natural shear layer/wake like instabilities at higher annular-to-jet velocity ratios, for R = 0.17 and 0.3. The dynamical response of the coaxial jet to pressure node excitation exhibited similar characteristics to that of the single jet for a range of forcing frequencies. But when forced at a pressure anti-node, a notable difference between the two configurations was found. The shear coaxial jet was more responsive to the acoustic forcing at higher forcing frequencies, for example, than the single fuel jet. The susceptibility diagrams for the full range of annular-to-inner jet velocity ratios demonstrated opposite trends when compared to the single jet, that is, that the coaxial jet was more responsive to excitation at a given excitation amplitude when the forcing frequency was higher, and thus closer to the natural coaxial jet instability frequency. Hence evidence suggests that the natural instabilities of the coaxial jet shear layer may be causing the difference in susceptibility diagrams. Both sets of experimental studies here, the nanofuel droplet combustion studies and the acoustically-coupled turbulent fuel jet combustion experiments, provide useful advances to our understanding of reactive flows relevant to liquid rocket engine systems. Enhancement in burning rates with nanoparticulate additives show potential benefits for rocket fuels, and attendant benefits are documented in the presence of acoustic disturbances, studied separately [1]. AFRL-based acoustically coupled turbulent fuel jet studies reveal different dynamical characteristics, depending on the injection system and the acoustic frequency and amplitude range. Different characteristic signatures extracted via POD analysis are both relevant in understanding combustion instabilities and in developing reduced order models underlying control of such instabilities. The present studies contribute to these goals in important ways.

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