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Measurements in Solid Propellant Plumes at Ambient Conditions

[+] Author Affiliations
Jonathan L. Height, Burl A. Donaldson, Walter Gill

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Christian G. Parigger

The University of Tennessee Space Institute, Tullahoma, TN

Paper No. IMECE2011-62726, pp. 1409-1414; 6 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 4: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; Combustion Science and Engineering; Nanoengineering for Energy, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5490-7
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


The study of aluminum particle ignition in an open atmosphere propellant burn is of particular interest when considering accident scenarios for rockets carrying high-value payloads. This study investigates the temperature of an open atmosphere Atlas V solid propellant burn as a function of height from the burning surface. Two instruments were used to infer this temperature: a two-color pyrometer and a spectrometer. The spectra were fitted to a model of energy states for aluminum monoxide. The temperature which provided the best match between the model and data was taken as the reaction temperature. Emissions above 30 inches from the surface of the propellant were not sufficiently strong for data reduction, perhaps obscured by the alumina smoke cloud. The temperature distribution in the plume increased slightly with distance from the burning surface, presumably indicating the delay in ignition and heat release from the larger aluminum particles in the propellant. The pyrometer and spectrometer results were found to be in excellent agreement indicating plume temperatures in the range of 2300K to 3000K.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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