Paving the Way for Hypersonic Propulsion

Harsha Chelliah with students

If you think lighting a match on a windy day is hard, consider trying to light the flame in the combustion chamber of a hypersonic jet engine and keeping it lit. At the speeds hypersonic jets attain, the air moving through their engines is traveling many times faster than a category 5 hurricane.

This year, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) joined forces with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in awarding mechanical and aerospace engineering Professor Harsha Chelliah a $1.5 million grant to expand the validity of turbulence models that researchers use to predict high-speed reacting flows in hypersonic engines.

“The ultimate goal is to find ways to stabilize combustion over a shorter distance by premixing the air and fuel, better control of turbulence, and mixing with vitiated gases in recirculation regions,” Chelliah says.  “By reducing the overall length of the combustor, we will be able to decrease overall engine weight, and increase the payload. 

This is the first time the two agencies have come together on a project of this size. The Air Force is interested in the military applications of this work, while the NSF is interested in the fundamental turbulence-chemistry interactions, which can be applied to many civilian applications.

Read the whole story here: http://uvef.seas.virginia.edu/paving-the-way-for-hypersonic-propulsion/