An Acoustic Analysis of Valveless Pulsejet Engines
Cadou, Christopher P
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Valveless pulsejets are extremely simple aircraft engines; essentially cleverly designed tubes with no moving parts. These engines utilize pressure waves, instead of machinery, for thrust generation, and have demonstrated thrust-to-weight ratios over 8 and thrust specific fuel consumption levels below 1 lbm/lbf-hr – performance levels that can rival many gas turbines. Despite their simplicity and competitive performance, they have not seen widespread application due to extremely high noise and vibration levels, which have persisted as an unresolved challenge primarily due to a lack of fundamental insight into the operation of these engines. This thesis develops two theories for pulsejet operation (both based on electro-acoustic analogies) that predict measurements better than any previous theory reported in the literature, and then uses them to devise and experimentally validate effective noise reduction strategies. The first theory analyzes valveless pulsejets as acoustic ducts with axially varying area and temperature. An electro-acoustic analogy is used to calculate longitudinal mode frequencies and shapes for prescribed area and temperature distributions inside an engine. Predicted operating frequencies match experimental values to within 6% with the use of appropriate end corrections. Mode shapes are predicted and used to develop strategies for suppressing higher modes that are responsible for much of the perceived noise. These strategies are verified experimentally and via comparison to existing models/data for valveless pulsejets in the literature. The second theory analyzes valveless pulsejets as acoustic systems/circuits in which each engine component is represented by an acoustic impedance. These are assembled to form an equivalent circuit for the engine that is solved to find the frequency response. The theory is used to predict the behavior of two interacting pulsejet engines. It is validated via comparison to experiment and data in the literature. The technique is then used to develop and experimentally verify a method for operating two engines in anti-phase without interfering with thrust production. Finally, Helmholtz resonators are used to suppress higher order modes that inhibit noise suppression via anti-phasing. Experiments show that the acoustic output of two resonator-equipped pulsejets operating in anti-phase is 9 dBA less than the acoustic output of a single pulsejet.