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DR-00190-ONERA-6558

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Premier Colloque Européen sur la Technologie des Lanceurs "Vibration des Lanceurs"

Toulouse (France), December 14-16, 1999

TP 2000-5

Recent advances in the prediction of SRM thrust oscillations

Progrès récents dans la prévision des oscillations de poussée des moteurs à propergol solide

par

** SNPE, BP 2, F-91710 Vert le Petit, France

Premier Colloque Européen sur la Technologie des Lanceurs "Vibration des Lanceurs"

Toulouse (France), December 14-16, 1999

mené à échelle réduite, pour améliorer notre connaissance des phénomènes d'oscillations de

pression déclenchées par détachement tourbillonnaire, dans les moteurs fusées à propergol solide

segmentés. Des simulations numériques, par résolution des équations de Navier-Stokes, ont permis

d'obtenir des amplitudes d'oscillations de pression comparables à celles mesurées sur un

propulseur à échelle réduite, pour un propergol non métallisé et pour différentes configurations de

protections thermiques de la face avant du segment arrière. Un scénario original a été proposé. Ce

scénario est fondé sur un phénomène de détachement tourbillonnaire pariétal prenant naissance à

la surface du propergol en combustion. Le phénomène est particulièrement présent dans les

configurations sans protections thermiques. Dans les configurations avec protections thermiques, la

forme du restricteur métallique représentant la protection thermique (déformé ou non déformé) est

apparue comme un paramètre très influent. Des premières simulations numériques de l'ensemble

du fonctionnement d'un moteur, à l'aide du code MOPTI de la SNPE, ont retrouvé des zones

d'instabilités proches des zones observées expérimentalement. Un scénario nouveau a été proposé

par l'ONERA et pourrait expliquer les niveaux d'oscillations relativement plus élevés obtenus à

l'échelle 1, par la combustion distribuée de l'aluminium présent dans le propergol.

Recent Advances in the Prediction of SRM Thrust Oscillations

P. Le Breton*, J.F. Guéry**

† ‡

F. Vuillot , M. Prevost

**SNPE, Centre de Recherche du Bouchet, B.P. 2, 91710 Vert le Petit, FRANCE

†

ONERA, 29 av. de la Division Leclerc, 92322 CHATILLON CEDEX, FRANCE

‡

ONERA, Centre du Fauga Mauzac, 31410 Mauzac, FRANCE

Abstract

A subscale experimental and numerical program has been carried out in order to improve the

knowledge of vortex shedding driven pressure oscillations phenomena in segmented solid rocket

motors. Full Navier-Stokes simulations have provided pressure amplitudes in the same range than the

experimental ones, for different configurations of non-metallized propellant subscale motors having

metallic restrictors or no restrictor on the last segment forward face. An original scenario has been

proposed which rely mostly on surface vortex shedding originating on the burning surface of the

propellant. This phenomenon is particularly present in the no-restrictor configuration but also in some

configurations with metallic restrictors whose shape (bended versus non bended) has been identified

as an influent parameter. First numerical computations of all the firing of a motor, done with SNPE

MOPTI suite, shows instabilities zones very close to experimental ones. A new scenario proposed by

ONERA relying on aluminum distributed combustion in surface vortex-shedding area is proposed to

explain the levels of pressure oscillation obtained at full scale.

Introduction

It has been widely reported in the open literature that the large segmented Solid Rocket Motors

(SRM) are subject to pressure oscillations caused by vortex shedding at annular restrictors and

acoustic feedback resulting from impingement of the vortices on the nozzle or other restrictors. All

1 2

the SRMs having annular inhibitors (Titan 34D SRM , Titan IV SRM, Space Shuttle SRB and

3

Ariane 5 MPS ) have demonstrated such pressure oscillations, whatever the number of segments was.

All these motors have a length over diameter (L/D) ratio in the range [9-12]. An exception seems to

be the motor developed for the Japanese H-II vehicle, for which pressure oscillations have not been

4

reported in the available literature . But this motor is a smaller motor and has an outside diameter

5

limited to 1.8 m compared to more than 3 m for the others. A recent publication makes a review of

the pressure oscillation data available and shows that the Titan IV SRMU which does not have

inhibitors also exhibits pressure oscillation phenomena with unsteady pressure levels lying in the

same range than the former "inhibited" motors. The analysis based on the approach first proposed by

6

Rossiter for airflow over rectangular cavities indicates that acoustic feedback also defines the

pressure oscillations and that the excitation is provided by the vortices shed around the cavity

between the center and aft segments of the motor.

These observations on a fullscale segmented motor comfort the observations made on a basic

subscale motor in the frame of the Ariane 5 development program. The results reported in a 1996

7

paper indicate that subscale motors, with representative L/D ratio, but without inhibitors and even

without intersegment cavity also exhibit pressure oscillations. In the experiments, five different motor

configurations were used, three of them with metallic restrictors instead of elastomeric inhibitors, the

fourth one without inhibitor on the aft segment forward face and the fifth one with central and aft

1

segments merged (no cavity). All configurations with metallic restrictors do not show pressure

oscillations while the two last configurations do show high level pressure oscillations on the first

8

acoustic mode. A full Navier-Stokes numerical simulation of the two last configurations has shown

that what was named parietal (or surface) vortex shedding was the cause of these pressure

oscillations. It comes finally that pressure oscillations in large L/D ratio SRM could be due to three

different vortex shedding phenomena :

1) Vortex shedding from annular restrictors.

2) Vortex shedding over intersegment cavities.

3) Surface vortex shedding.

A research program has thus been proposed in order to improve the understanding of these basic

phenomena in relationship with what could occur in a real the Ariane 5 MPS.

The first part of this program was to find configurations of an experimental subscale motor that are

representative enough to exhibit the elementary phenomena that are supposed to occur in a three-

segment motor but basic enough to permit confrontation with numerical simulation. For this last point

a very good estimate of the internal geometry of the motor at the computed time must be known. This

imposes that no ablative elements should be put inside the motor or that the ablation law for these

elements should be perfectly known. The four basic configurations that have been finally retained use

metallic restrictors instead of real thermal protection on the aft segment forward face or no protection

at all. It has also been assumed from the fullscale Ariane 5 MPS firings that the vortex shedding

phenomena occurs only after the complete burning of the head-end star-shaped grain and that there is

no influence of the thermal protection on the second segment face.

The four basic configurations are presented in Figure 1. Configuration E features a motor without

protection on the third segment face while configurations H, I and J feature motors with metallic

protections providing different protrusions in the flow. All motors have an axisymmetric first

segment to preclude three-dimensional effects on the expected phenomena. The LP6 motor is very

close to the MPS geometry (grains conicity, submerged nozzle profile similar to these of a

preliminary version of the MPS) except for the head-end and aft-end closures that are flat for easier

installation of the propellant grains. The three segments are casted apart by SNPE and bonded in the

heavy wall case with an external liner which fills the 3-mm gap between the grain and the case. The

propellant is a non-metallized AP/HTPB propellant containing non-active stabilizing additives to

preclude tangential instability modes.

A detailed description if the experimental configuration and data reduction analysis if given in Ref.

23.

Experimental Program

The four configurations presented in Figure 1 have been used only once except configuration E

without inhibitor which has been used three times at room temperature conditions (20°C).

Configurations I and J have been defined according to the following fullscale MPS observations :

1) The elastomeric thermal protection on the third segment exhibits a substantial ablation which

limits its protrusion in the flow as the propellant burns.

2) The pressure difference between both sides of the thermal protection progressively leads to a large

bending of this elastomeric disk in the flow.

Configuration J has been defined as being representative of the Ariane 5 MPS one, when the

maximum level of pressure oscillations occurs (approximately 95 s during the firing). The geometry

has been estimated by SNPE using a propellant regression code and a coupling between a two-

dimensional Navier-Stokes solver and a grain deformation code for the thermal protection.

Configuration I simply used a straight metallic restrictor having the same protrusion in the flow than

2

the bended one defined for configuration J. Therefore comparison of results between configurations I

and J is relevant to the influence of the estimated bending of the thermal protection, excluding any

possible coupling between the flow oscillations and the vibration of the thermal protection, as it is

replaced by a rigid metallic part.

The firings of the LP6 motor have been performed on a static test bench at Le Fauga-Mauzac Center

of ONERA. A special care has been put on data reduction in order to generate a complete data base

that could serve as a reference for further confrontation to numerical simulations. Each unsteady

pressure has been reduced on 1024 data point windows on which Hamming tapered Power Spectral

Density (PSD) has been performed over three overlapping segments of 512 data. A typical set of

results is presented on Figure 2 to Figure 5 for the four configurations. These figures present :

1) The head-end pressure time histories for the absolute and the unsteady pressures.

2) The head-end pressure amplitude time histories for the three first acoustic modes (integration

windows : [200, 350] Hz for the first axial mode ; [450, 600] Hz for the second axial mode ; [800,

950] Hz for the third axial mode).

3) A time versus frequency location of the four first maximum for the head-end pressure amplitude.

3) A waterfall plot of the DSP for the head-end pressure.

A comparison of these four figures clearly indicates that :

1) All firings give satisfactory steady-state results. The first axisymmetric segment burns smoothly

about 2.5 s generating a pressure growing from about 3 to 4 MPa and providing a sharp decrease

at the end of its combustion. The submerged nozzle is freed from propellant between 5.5 and 6 s

depending on the exact slope of the aft-part of third segment. A smooth end of the burn provided

by the conicity of segments 2 and 3 is observed between 8 and 10 s.

2) The unsteady pressure traces reveal the time periods during which particular unsteady phenomena

occur : after 6 s for configuration E, at 4 and 5 s for configuration I and at 7 s for configuration J. It is

not possible to detect any particular unsteady regime for configuration H on these curves. These

unsteady periods do not seem to be linked to the time where the propellant surrounding the nozzle is

completely burned.

3) The acoustic modes excited during the firings are clearly different from one configuration to the

other.

3

Figure 2 : Congiguration E – Typical set of experimental result

4

Figure 4 : Congiguration I – Typical set of experimental result

5

Table I makes a summary of the amplitudes obtained on the three first axial modes (time interval, 0-

to-peak value), before the end of combustion starts.

6-9 s

E / /

0.010 MPa

3-4 s

H / /

0.003 MPa

6 and 7 s 4 and 5 s

I /

0.002 MPa 0.004 MPa

6.5-7.5 s 7.5 s

J /

0.005 MPa 0.002 MPa

Table I : Summary o f the amplitudes on the three first axial modes

Comparison of configurations H and I demonstrates that a straight metallic restrictor refrains the first

and second axial modes to occur but provides oscillations on the third mode earlier in the firing,

starting at 3 s for maximum protrusion (conf. H) and at 4 s for reduced protrusion (conf. I) in the

flow. A very interesting element comes from comparing configurations I and J. The simple bending

of the restrictor dramatically modify the unsteady behavior, giving a strong first axial mode between

6.5 s and 7.5 s. As configuration J is based on the internal geometry of the Ariane 5 MPS at 95 s, it

should be representative only at this equivalent time for the subscale motor, which is effectively

about 7 s, after correction due to the difference in the propellant burning rates. Having no restrictor at

all, configuration E is clearly different of the other configurations and gives meanwhile the largest

instability amplitude on the first axial mode between 6 and 9 s. This result confirms what was

5 7

previously observed on the SRMU and on the LP3-E motor . The color waterfall plots of the head-

end pressure DSP that are presented in Figure 8 clearly show all the different behaviors. Here again,

comparison between configurations I and J demonstrates how the simple bending of the restrictor

provides a slip in the unsteady flow pattern from the high modes to the lower modes.

Based on previous confidence on the ability of capturing vortex shedding phenomena with full

8-9

unsteady Navier-Stokes simulation for subscale segmented motors , each experimental configuration

has been retained as a candidate for computation. The time at which the simulation was realized had

been selected as follows :

1) 6.6 s in the firing for conf. E, which corresponds to the maximum amplitude on the first axial

mode.

2) 4 s in the firing for conf. H, which corresponds to the maximum amplitude on the third axial mode.

3) 7 s in the firing for conf. J, which corresponds to the maximum amplitude on the first axial mode.

4) 7 s also for conf. I, in order to make a direct comparison to conf. J simulation results.

Description of codes

Three different codes have been used for the simulations. SIERRA is a multi-domain code developed

by ONERA that solves the two-dimensional compressible unsteady Navier-Stokes equations by

means of an explicit finite volume original Mac Cormack scheme (1969). This code has been

thoroughly validated for SRM internal flows and for unsteady regimes including acoustics and vortex

10-12 13-15

shedding . PATRIC is the SNPE computer code for CFD inside SRM . It solves the two and three

dimensional compressible unsteady Navier-Stokes equations for turbulent, reactive, multi-species,

two-phase flows. It uses a cell-centered finite volume method on an unstructured mesh with triangular

and quadrilateral control cells in 2D and with hexahedrons, pentahedrons, pyramids and tetrahedrons

6

in 3D. Only the two-dimensional version has been used in the present study, even if three-

20

dimensional parallel computations of vortex-shedding have already been done . MOPTI is a SNPE

code which manages exchanges between two principal computational modules :

- A varying burning rate surface burnback module,

®

-The CFD code PATRIC

MOPTI has been precisely described in reference 25. The surface burnback module has been

developed, on the basis of the work published by R. Abgrall, to be able to simulate non-isotropic

21-22

propellant combustion .

®

Combustion chamber pressure field is computed with SNPE CFD code PATRIC . In MOPTI

simulations, until now, only the laminar Navier-Stokes option is used. The global structure of MOPTI

is presented on Figure 6.

Combustion Chamber

Manufactoring geometry

Surface Burnback

Process

Automatic

Burning Rate mesh generation

computation

Performance Prevision

PATRIC and SIERRA computations are done in fixed geometries (the time scale related to the

moving boundary is larger that the time scale for instabilities). The pressure signal is exploited on a

time-window long enough to permit spectral analysis with sufficient frequency resolution, after

stabilization of the average pressure and of the unsteady regime. MOPTI computes the unstable

behavior of a motor during the whole firing.

Influence of grid refinement has been analyzed. For these subscale motor configurations,

computations on two successive grids, the second being two times finer that the first one, have shown

that the unsteady amplitudes obtained on both grids had the same order of magnitude. The finer grids

were finally adopted for better resolution of the vortices.

A comparison between numerical and experimental pressures is proposed in Figure 7 for all

configurations. In this figure, the spectra for the head-end (HE) and aft-end (AE) pressures are plotted

using the same scale for all computations and experiments and roughly the same frequency

resolution. This major figure calls for the following comments :

1) For conf. E, the first axial mode is clearly observed on both numerical and experimental spectra.

The level for the simulation is higher than for the experiment (18000 vs. 7000 Pa for the HE pressure)

but the ratio between HE and AE pressures is roughly the same. The simulation also exhibits higher

axial modes (2L to 5L) that are not present in the test.

2) For conf. H, the agreement between simulation and experiment is rather poor, the computation

generating levels that are higher than the experimental ones, particularly for the AE pressure. The

frequency content is much more complex than for configuration E in both simulation and test and in

both cases the AE pressure amplitudes are much higher than the HE amplitudes.

3) For conf. I, which is supposed to be almost stable at this time, the simulation finds levels on the

two first axial modes of about 2000 Pa at the HE and a large difference between the HE and the AE

which is not visible on the experiments.

7

4) For conf. J, the agreement between simulation and test is excellent on the HE pressure for the first

axial mode (4000 Pa) even if the second mode is too high in the simulation. Here again the levels on

the AE pressure are much higher on the numerical simulation than on the experiment.

The color vorticity contours presented in Figure 9 indicates that conf. E is only subject to surface

vortex shedding generated on the burning surface of segment 3 and giving strong (red) vortices on the

very aft part of the motor. No vorticity seems to be directly generated in the second intersegment slot.

A comparison between conf. I and J shows that the bending of the metallic restrictor probably allows

a stronger coupling between the vortices generated at the tip of the restrictor and the surface vortices,

thus providing a stronger excitation of the first axial mode. For configuration H the vortices generated

at the tip of the full restrictor seem to be effectively very strong, but the emission of these vortices

occur at a high frequency which finally creates almost no coupling with the surface shedding and

finally no level on the first axial mode. A detailed examination of the experimental pressures

effectively indicates that the excitation at the second intersegment slot occurs at 2000 Hz only for

conf. H, a frequency which does not match any acoustic mode frequency.

From information provided both by numerical vorticity contours and by numerical and experimental

pressure amplitudes, the following scenario can be finally proposed :

1) The main phenomenon giving high level vortex shedding driven pressure oscillations seems to be

the surface vortex shedding with strong coupling with the first acoustic axial mode.

2) A short restrictor protruding in the flow at the second intersegment slot limits the amplitude of the

phenomenon and is also influent by its geometry as long as the shearing created by the obstacle is

modified (smoother behind a bended restrictor).

3) A full restrictor seems to preclude the surface vortex shedding phenomenon and only gives tip

vortices that do not seem to interact with any axial acoustic mode (in this configuration).

4) No vortices coming from the second intersegment slot seem to be present in all four

configurations.

As long as the main phenomenon is the surface vortex shedding (conf. E), the ratio between the aft-

end and head-end pressure amplitudes is well restored by the numerical simulation even if the

absolute level is too high and if upper modes appear which are not observed in the firings. An

explanation can be searched through the lack of physical modeling in the numerical simulation. At

least, four major physical phenomena are known to have an influence on instabilities and are not

accounted for yet :

1) the turbulence in the flow field.

2) the dynamic response of the motor.

3) the pressure-coupled response of the propellant.

5) the two-phase flow effects.

16-18

The first topics is currently studied in frame of the French ASSM research program . The second

19

one has been the object of a preliminary study which is not reported here but indicates that the

dynamic response of the motor is sensitive only for the higher modes (second axial mode and upper

modes). The third topic has been studied on configurations E and J, using an unsteady combustion

model developed by ONERA and implemented in both codes SIERRA and PATRIC. The influence is

23

very limited for the range of frequencies studied . For the last one, the influence of energy liberation

of reacting condensed phase on thrust oscillation levels will be assessed later in the paper.

8

Figure 7 : Comparison of numerical and experimental pressure amplitudes for all configurations

9

Figure 8 : Waterfall plots of dsp contours for all configurations

10

The MOPTI suite computations

A MOPTI simulation of the LP6 subscale motor has been performed in the J configuration. This

simulation has been carried out on the basis of a constant burning rate burnback surface computation.

The performance simulation is carried out using 60 time steps, 0.13s each.

On Figure 10 numerical vorticity fields are presented. They show that the flow becomes unstable after

t≅5s. Before this time step the pressure signal is stable. This numerical result is in good agreement

with experimental observations.

t=5s t=6s

t=7s t=8s

The computational results have been more precisely analyzed. The pressure signal computed for each

time step is 50ms long, that is to say a spectral resolution of 20Hz for each computation. Head-end

pressure Power Spectral Density (PSD) contours are plotted on Figure 11.

Those figures show a very good agreement between numerical and experimental results. The first

oscillations occur after t≅5s. We observe a first waterfall on the first longitudinal acoustic mode

between 5 an 6.5s. The levels are stronger on computational results but the global form is similar. The

principal waterfall occurs between 6.5 and 8s, and a last one in the combustion tail off between 8 and

10s. For both waterfalls the numerical and experimental results are in really good agreement. The

same comparison may be done on the second acoustic mode.

10

9 10

8 9

8

7

7

Time (s)

6

6

Time (s)

5

5

4

4

3 3

2 2

Simulation Experience

1 1

0 0

0 200 400 600 800 1000 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400

It’s necessary to remain that in MOPTI simulation, only Euler or Laminar Navier-Stokes equations

are solved in order to decrease computation times. When the goal is to obtain instabilities level at a

given time, MOPTI may be used as a tool to choose the simulation time to be looked at more

11

precisely. At this given time, a more complex CFD simulation on an adapted mesh can be done with

all the required physical models (turbulence, multiphase models...).

Configuration E computations have been done recently with MOPTI. The computed results are again

in good agreement with experimental results. On Figure 12, the computed evolution of pressure

oscillations levels on the first acoustic mode is compared to the experimental one.

12000

10000 Experience

Mopti simulation

Amplitude (Pa)

8000

6000

4000

2000

0

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

Web (m m )

The MOPTI suite has shown capabilities in predicting the global stability of non metallized

AP/HTPB SRM in conditions where the geometry was well determined (no fluid-structure coupling

possible) and at subscale range. A validation work is still in progress for applicability on the real

motor.

Despite the very encouraging results obtained on the sub-scale, non metalized, motor, some results

did not fit in the proposed scenario. These results are summarized below :

1) Some numerical simulations were performed at the full scale by SNPE and did not provided good

agreement, especially on the oscillatory levels. The simulations were state of the art simulations but

did not include burning aluminum as this was beyond the current capabilities of the codes, while the

actual propellant does contain aluminum

2) The metallized propellant was first used on the subscale motor LP6 but turned out to yield a stable

firing, while, as described above, non-metallized propellant did yield significative oscillatory levels,

despite these levels were lower than the full scale levels.

From these results, ONERA suggested that distributed aluminum combustion could be a very active

phenomenon on the resulting oscillatory levels.

It has been known from many years that aluminum burns away from the propellant surface implying a

distributed energy release inside the core of the flow. Of course, the size of the aluminum droplet is

the key parameter in defining the extent of this distributed effect. Studies performed on the Ariane 5

propellant concluded that although the initial aluminum particle size is centered around 30 µm, a

significative portion of the aluminum enter the combustion chamber in an agglomerated form (due to

near surface process, where individual aluminum particle are agglomerated in pockets created by

larger AP particles). The average size of these agglomerate is close to 125 µm. Such large particles

burn away from the propellant surface, typically several centimeters, in a region where surface

vortices begin to form when oscillations are driven by this mechanism. It was then anticipated that

some relation between the size of the distributed combustion zone and the volume occupied by the

12

surface vortices could explain the higher observed oscillatory levels at full scale. Of course, scaling

down the motor without scaling down the aluminum particle size would destroy this relation.

It was thus believed that strong interaction between distributed burning aluminum and surface vortex

shedding could be the clue to explain the above described discrepencies. Indeed at subscale, the

conditions prevailing at full scale no longer hold unless some scaling s applied to the aluminum

droplets.

To illustrate the possible importance of this mechanism, a very simple simulation was proposed.

Starting with the LP6 configuration E simulation, a two-phase flow simulation was performed. Some

form of particulate combustion was added to the simulation, using the simplest possible combustion

model. The retained model was as follows :

2

A simple particle diameter regression law (d law) was adopted. Then the interphase exchange terms

(mass, drag force and convective heat transfer) are given by (for one droplet of diameter d) :

(

C p T − Tp + rsY0 x Q )

ω& = 2πd

k

Cp

( )

1 + 0 ,3 Re1p 2 Pr 1 3 ln(1 + B ) où B =

lv

r 24

π C r r r r

FD = ρd 2 D u − u p u − u p

8 1+ B

( ) où CD = max

Re p

( )

1 + 0 .15 Re p0 .687 ; 0 ,445

Qv = πdk

Nu

1+ B

(

T − Tp ) où Nu = 2 + 0 ,6 Re p1 / 2 Pr 1 / 3

lv = 10,90 106 J/kg

rs = 1 et Yox = 1

(u − u p ) + (v − v p )

2 2

ρd

The particulate Reynolds number is given by : Re p =

µ

Then the corresponding source terms (mass momentum and energy) in the gas equations are (for one

droplet) :

sm = ω&

su = ω& u p − FDx

sv = ω& v p − FDy

( )

1

2

(

sE = − FDx u p + FDy v p − Qv + ω& lv + Cs Tp + Q + u 2p + v 2p

)

The following notations are used :

B : Spalding number

CD : particle drag force Q : heat released by the combustion

Cp : gas specific heat at constant pressure Qv : convective heat transfer

Cs : particle specific heat rs : mass stoechiometric coefficient

d : droplet diameter T : temperature

r r

FD : particle drag force u : velocity

k : gas thermal conductivity Y0x : oxydizing species mass fraction

lv : latent heat of vaporization µ : gas laminar viscosity

Nu : Nusselt number ρ : gas density

Pr : Prandtl number ( )p : particle property

This simplified model was introduced in the SIERRA code and validated in the simple case of a

propagating acoustic wave. During combustion, the particle temperature was held at the vaporizing

13

temperature. The combustion can be stopped at a given size (corresponding to a residual aluminum

oxide droplet) then the particle temperature was computed via the particulate phase energy equation.

Several computations were performed for several aluminum/residual size and only the most

significant results will be reported below. These concerns subscale (LP6) computations with two

different aluminum loading :

a) 6% (in mass) of 30 µm aluminum droplets with 3 µm residues (as if the propellant was scaled

down).

b) 6% (in mass) of 125 µm aluminum droplets with 60 µm residues (as if the propellant was not

scaled down).

Figure 13 : Vorticity and gas temperature fields as well as head end pressure signals (compared to Navier-

Stokes simulation, far left) for two cases described.

14

The propellant scaling law was based on the Stokes number analogy : St = ω τ, where ω is the

acoustic angular frequency and τ the particulate characteristic time. If τ is the particulate dynamic

relaxation time, τ = ρsd /18µ or if τ is the combustion time τ≈d ,with the model used here, the same

2 2

1/2

scaling law is obtained as : d proportional to 1/ω

Thus at the LP6 scale (1/15), 125 µm corresponds to roughly 30 µm.

The results are summarized in the following tables and illustrated by Figure 13.

PHE (bar) 41,03 47,54 46,68

∆PHE (Pa) 9204 16789 2100

∆PAE (Pa) 12552 18810 3598

Fr (Hz) 297 315 302

When aluminum burns, the mean pressure increases due to the increase in the chamber temperature.

When expressed in relative amplitudes the results are as given in the table below.

RPHE 1,57 0,20

RPAE 1,29 0,25

It is interesting to note that, in these subscale computations, large particles considerably reduce the

levels of oscillatory levels, in good agreement with the results of LP6 firings with the full scale

aluminized propellant, while smaller (scaled down) aluminum particles lead to oscillatory levels close

to the full scale levels. This shows that distributed aluminum combustion plays an important role on

the resulting oscillatory levels. This open the way to further simulations of full scale motors when

aluminum distributed combustion is present. It also open the way to control of the oscillatory levels

through control of the aluminum droplet size, considering the agglomeration process which is

responsible of the active large particles.

Conclusion

Confrontation between experimental and numerical results for vortex shedding driven pressure

oscillations phenomena in segmented subscale motor has given new insight on this very complex

issue. A complete data base for both experimental and numerical results has also been generated

which will be very useful for further work and will be progressively completed as long as new results

are available. From the four different configurations tested, a new vision can be proposed which

mainly rely on surface vortex shedding as the main driver for pressure oscillations. No evidence of

vortices shed around the cavity between center and aft segments has conforted the recent scenario

proposed for the SRMU. The configuration which provides the highest pressure amplitudes on the

first axial acoustic mode does not feature inhibitor on the last segment while the others using metallic

restrictors demonstrate low amplitude higher modes particularly if the annular restrictor protrudes

deeply in the flow. The influence of the restrictor shape has also been assessed, a bended shape giving

more acoustic response on the first axial mode than a non-bended shape for the same protrusion in the

flow. Up to now, the computation of thrust oscillation was only possible on condition that were

experimentally fired. The development of the MOPTI suite enlarges the possibilities.

A true limitation in this subscale program is that the results can not be directly extrapolated to

fullscale segmented SRM. This is due first to the current limitation of the codes used for the

simulation, that requires very fine grids particularly for those configurations having restrictors

protruding in the flow, for which the resolution mandatory for fullscale applications is still out of

reach. Meanwhile some hope comes from the fact that the proposed surface vortex shedding driver is

really less sensitive to the grid refinement as long as it is generated all along the burning surface

15

(region not dominated by viscous effects) rather than behind an obstacle (region dominated by

viscous effects).

Aluminum distributed combustion was shown to be a good candidate to explain the levels got at full

scale.

The exact role played by the elastomeric inhibitors placed on the forward faces of the fullscale

segments still has to be investigated. Are these inhibitors really deeply bended in the flow ? Do they

mechanically interact with the flowfield oscillations ?

The answers to all these very complex issues still require more research in order to enhance the

physical models in the numerical tools on basic phenomena as turbulence and two-phase flow. But

subscale programs will remain very fruitful as long as they permit to improve the knowledge and as

long as they could serve as experimental test benches to check solutions proposed to reduce the

pressure oscillations as for instance passive (geometrical, work on the propellant) or active control.

Acknowledgment

This work financially supported by CNES is the result of a large cooperative effort in the French

community involved in solid rocket propulsion. The authors want to thank contributors from

Aerospatiale and SEP for valuable discussion in frame of the POP program.

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