Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ryoichi S. Amano

Committee Members

Ilya V. Avdeev, Junhong Chen, Benjamin C. Church, Istvan G. Lauko, David C. Yu


CFD, LES, Liquid Breakup, Solid Rocket, Two-phase Flow


Rocket propulsion is an important travel method for space exploration and national defense, rockets needs to be able to withstand wide range of operation environment and also stable and precise enough to carry sophisticated payload into orbit, those engineering requirement makes rocket becomes one of the state of the art industry. The rocket family have been classified into two major group of liquid and solid rocket based on the fuel phase of liquid or solid state. The solid rocket has the advantages of simple working mechanism, less maintenance and preparing procedure and higher storage safety, those characters of solid rocket make it becomes popular in aerospace industry. Aluminum based propellant is widely used in solid rocket motor (SRM) industry due to its avalibility, combusion performance and economical fuel option, however after aluminum react with oxidant of amonimum perchrate (AP), it will generate liquid phase alumina (Al2O3) as product in high temperature (2,700~3,000 K) combustion chamber enviornment. The liquid phase alumina particles aggromorate inside combustion chamber into larger particle which becomes major erosion calprit on inner nozzle wall while alumina aggromorates impinge on the nozzle wall surface. The erosion mechanism result nozzle throat material removal, increase the performance optimized throat diameter and reduce nozzle exit to throat area ratio which leads to the reduction of exhaust gas velocity, Mach number and lower the propulsion thrust force. The approach to avoid particle erosion phenomenon taking place in SRM’s nozzle is to reduce the alumina particle size inside combustion chamber which could be done by further breakup of the alumina droplet size in SRM’s combustion chamber.

The study of liquid breakup mechanism is an important means to smaller combustion chamber alumina droplet size and mitigate the erosion tack place on rocket nozzle region. In this study, a straight two phase air-water flow channel experiment is set up for liquid breakup phenomenon observation. The liquid water material in this experiment will play a comparison role as liquid alumina in high temerature enviornment.

The method proposed to control the liquid breakup size of liquid droplet is done by the means of changing the liquid properties of surface tension. The surface tenion of liquid plays an inportant role of providing major liquid droplet bounding pressure or Laplace pressure. By reduceing surface tension of liquid leads to lower Laplace pressure of droplet and result in less droplet dynamic stability which could be breakup under external pressure difference. The reduction of surface tension of liquid aluminum could be achieved by adding magnisium and strontium, it is reported that the surface tension reeducation level could reach 10%~15% when those additive mension above are adding to aluminum.

This study of liquid breakup mechanism include two major part, first part is straight two-phase channel experiment and simulation comparison which provide a validation work of CFD simulation performance when compare to experiment. Second part is single droplet breakup experiment, in this experiment the relation of surface tension and liquid breakup behavior is carefully studied.

The straight two-phase flow channel experiment setting will enable to us to study the liquid breakup process in macro scale. The quantification method is achieved by analyzing high-speed camera image by MatLab image process code develop in UW-Milwaukee wind tunnel lab which extract data in images and provide information including liquid droplet count and size distribution, wave frequency and time averaging two-phase free boundary. It was found that liquid breakup mechanism proportional to gas-droplet velocity difference square, gas density and liquid droplet size and inverse proportional to liquid surface tension. The single droplet experiment part is provide a close up view of liquid breakup and prove the reduced surface tension will enhance liquid breakup activity.

In this study, we could observe the evidence of enhance liquid breakup activity by the reduced surface tension of liquid. Therefor the approach of reducing surface tension of Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) fuel reacting product is a high potential solution to SRM nozzle erosion.