Effect of Swirl on the Choking Criteria, Shock Structure, and Mixing in Underexpanded Supersonic Nozzle Airflows
Gupta, Ashwani K
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Swirling flow in nozzles occurs in a number of important propulsion applications, including turbofans and turbojet engines, spin-stabilized rockets, and integral rocket/ramjets. This study examines the effect of imparting swirl to underexpanded supersonic nozzle airflow on the choking criteria, shock structure, and mixing. Fuel is injected coaxially along centerline at the nozzle throat. The nanosecond Schlieren and condensate-seeded Mie-scattering diagnostic techniques are utilized to visualize the shock structure and mixing within the free supersonic part of flowfield, while CFD numerical simulations are used to quantify the subsonic region inside nozzle. Thrust is measured experimentally to validate the numerical findings and assess the effect of swirl on nozzle choking criteria, primarily thrust and specific impulse. It is found that the throat velocity itself (not any of its components) is choked in a swirling flowfield. Therefore, the limiting tangential Mach number is unity. Moreover, the application of swirl always results in a reduction in axial Mach number component. The mass flow rate through nozzle is found to be primarily a function of throat static pressure and axial Mach number. The reduction in the latter with swirl explains the observed reduction in mass flow. Greater reservoir pressures, on the other hand, result in higher throat static pressures, which compensates for the reduced axial Mach number, and the mass flow rate can be kept constant at its non-swirling value. It is also found that the distribution of subsonic Mach number in a non-swirling flow is almost not affected with the application of swirl, i.e., non-swirling and swirling flows have the same subsonic Mach number profile. In terms of thrust and specific impulse, the application of swirl at matched nozzle reservoir pressure results in the expected reductions in discharge coefficient, thrust, and specific impulse. At matched mass flow, however, the application of swirl results in the enhancement of both thrust and specific impulse. This is attributed to the considerable degree of underexpansion associated with the swirling flow as a result of the higher nozzle reservoir pressure with swirl. In terms of shock strength, the application of swirl at matched reservoir pressure weakens the shock structure. Matching the mass flow, on the other hand, results in a stronger structure. Swirl is found to enhance supersonic mixing significantly, where swirl-induced vortices stir up and mix different regions of flowfield. High relative Mach numbers between air and fuel, combined with subsonic injection, are found to induce a negative-angled air/fuel shear layer, which results in mixing enhancement and a weaker shock structure.