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Preliminary Studies on Non-Reactive Flow Vortex Cooling

[ Vol. 12 , Issue. 3 ]


T.N. Rajesh*, T.J.S. Jothi and T. Jayachandran   Pages 262 - 271 ( 10 )


Background: The impulse for the propulsion of a rocket engine is obtained from the combustion of propellant mixture inside the combustion chamber and as the plume exhausts through a convergent- divergent nozzle. At stoichiometric ratio, the temperature inside the combustion chamber can be as high as 3500K. Thus, effective cooling of the thrust chamber becomes an essential criterion while designing a rocket engine.

Objective: A new cooling method of thrust chambers was introduced by Chiaverni, which is termed as Vortex Combustion Cold-Wall Chamber (VCCW). The patent works on cyclone separators and confined vortex flow mechanism for providing high propellant mixing with improved degree of turbulence inside the combustion chamber, providing the required notion for studies on VCCW. The flow inside a VCCW has a complex structure characterised by axial pressure losses, swirl velocities, centrifugal force, flow reversal and strong turbulence. In order to study the flow phenomenon, both the experimental and numerical investigations are carried out.

Methods: In this study, non-reactive flow analysis was conducted with real propellants like gaseous oxygen and hydrogen. The test was conducted to analyse the influence of mixture ratio and injection pressure of the propellants on the chamber pressure in a vortex combustion chamber. A vortex combustor was designed in which the oxidiser injected tangentially at the aft end near the nozzle spiraled up to the top plate and formed an inner core inside the chamber. The fuel was injected radially from injectors provided near the top plate and the propellants were mixed in the inner core. This resulted in enhanced mixing and increased residence time for the fuel. More information on the flow behaviour has been obtained by numerical analysis in Fluent. The test also investigated the sensitivity of the tangential injection pressure on the chamber pressure development.

Results: All the test cases showed an increase in chamber pressure with the mixture ratio and injection pressure of the propellants. The maximum chamber pressure was found to be 3.8 bar at PC1 and 2.7 bar at PC2 when oxidiser to fuel ratio was 6.87. There was a reduction in chamber pressure of 1.1 bar and 0.7 bar at PC1 and PC2, respectively, in both the cases when hydrogen was injected. A small variation in the pressure of the propellant injected tangentially made a pronounced effect on the chamber pressure and hence vortex combustion chamber was found to be very sensitive to the tangential injection pressure.

Conclusion: VCCW mechanism has been to be found to be very effective for keeping the chamber surface within the permissible limit and also reducing the payload of the space vehicle.


Chamber pressure, cold flow, injection pressure, vortex combustor, VCCW, vortex flow.


Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Calicut, Calicut, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Calicut, Calicut, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai

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