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Computational and Experimental Study of Nozzle Performance for Rotating Detonation Rocket Engines

Alexis J. Harroun, Stephen D. Heister, Joseph H. Ruf

Abstract: A computational and experimental study was conducted on nozzle geometries for rocket application rotating detonation engines (RDEs). Three geometries, including a nozzleless blunt body typically employed in RDE combustor hot-fire testing and two aerospike nozzles, were investigated. Simulations of the exhaust flow of a rotating high-frequency, high-pressure ratio wave based on rocket RDE test results were related to comparable constant-pressure conditions. Computational and experimental results showed the high momentum added by the highest-pressure detonation products influences the exhaust plume differently than a comparable steady flowfield fed by the same average product gas flow rate. In particular, the RDE exhaust flow tended to enhance entrainment on the nozzleless blunt body recirculation region and delay flow separation on nozzle expansion surfaces due to overexpansion compared to a constant-pressure engine. Results have important ramifications for isolating RDE combustor performance from nozzle effects and must be considered for future design of nozzle geometries to exploit the high-frequency, high-pressure ratio outflow of an RDE.
Keywords: nozzle geometries / performance from nozzle / engine / blunt body / RDE combustor / comparable constant / high frequency / exhaust flow / constant pressure

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