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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Writer: Becky Stines

Outstanding Presence by UTSI at the 46th Joint Propulsion Conference

This 46th Joint Propulsion Conference held in Nashville from July 25-28, 2010 encompassed the following professional societies: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE), and the American Society of Electrical Engineers (ASEE).

This event marked an all-time high for UTSI’s participation at a single international conference, thus setting a new record for both faculty and graduate student performance. UTSI presented a total of 20 papers, including a sixteen-paper contribution from Prof. Majdalani’s group, three papers from Prof. Moeller’s group, and one paper from Emeritus Prof. Flandro’s group.

The conference was a venue for UTSI to present research endeavors in several propulsion-related areas such as: Modeling Mach Number and Temperature Distributions in Supersonic Nozzle Flow; Pressure Blowdown and Sideloads in Rockets; Analytical Methodologies for Hypersonic Propulsion; Evaluation of CFD Codes for Hypersonic Flow Modeling; Compressible Hart-McClure Flow in Simulated Rockets; Beltramian Vortex Motions in Liquid Rocket Engines; Bidirectional Vortex Chambers with Arbitrary Endwall Velocity; Compressible Flows in Planar Rocket Configurations; Axial Waves in Rockets with Arbitrary Crossflow Velocity; Boundary Layer Treatment of Rockets with Wall Regression; MACH2 Simulations of Micro-laser Ablation Plasma Thrusters; MACH2 Simulations of Exothermic Propellants in a Micro-laser Ablation Plasma Thruster; Thrust Stand for Vertically Oriented Electric Propulsion Performance Evaluation; and Effects of Unsteady Heat Release on Liquid Rocket Combustion Instability.

Presenters were Professors Joe Majdalani and Trevor Moeller, and Graduate Research Assistants Georges and Michel Akiki, Josh Batterson, Brian Maicke, Tina Rice, and Richard Joel Thompson.

Brian Maicke showed exceptional performance and valiant effort as he presented seven high quality research articles. Of those, he served as first author on five and second author on two. His work encompassed high speed propulsion topics such as: nozzle flow modeling, internal compressible flow, and hypersonic flow analysis. Brian also presented two papers at the 40th Fluid Dynamics Conference held June 28 – July 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois, bringing his total contributions to 8 conference presentations. Dr. Majdalani believes this to be a new record for a graduate student from any institution at an international conference.

Josh Batterson presented a three-part paper series that focused on the core and sidewall boundary layers of both linear and nonlinear cyclonic flowfields in vortex-fired liquid rocket engines (Parts 1-2). He analyzed in Part 3 the behavior of cyclonic motions in the presence of multiple flow reversals. He plans on studying the hydrodynamic instability of such flows and their impact on thrust performance and flight worthiness.

Georges Akiki, after two semesters at UTSI, presented a study that involved a new exact Euler solution for the mean flow of a bidirectional vortex with realistic inlet and outlet velocity profiles. The importance of his work stands in the generalization from which other studies could be recovered as special cases. He plans on analyzing cases where fuel is injected at the headwall while conducting a CFD simulation of the vortex engine.

Michel Akiki presented a semi-analytical formulation of the compressible flowfield in solid rocket motors. His solution is general enough to capture any type of correlation between the chamber pressure and the mass flux distribution along the propellant surface. In his work, he incorporates different wall injection profiles. In future work, he plans on investigating additional burning rate correlations such as those associated with erosive burning.

Richard Joel Thompson presented two papers detailing laser-materials interactions in two micro-laser ablation thruster configurations, along with predicted improvements in thruster performance over a conventional design. Professor Moeller presented the development of a unique electric propulsion thrust stand for high-power thrusters.

Tina Rice gave an excellent presentation of the initial results of her groundbreaking Ph.D. research into the interaction between combustion chemical kinetics and acoustic fields, as it relates to liquid rocket combustion instability. By isolating the combustion chemistry from the other physical processes in an engine, such as propellant injection and atomization, Ms. Rice is providing the insight needed to determine how much of combustion instability is due to combustion and how much is due to other factors.

Professor Majdalani delivered five presentations and an oral report to the Hybrid Rocket Technical Committee. Joe notes these papers will soon become available at the AIAA website. Contact him via email (maji@utsi) or telephone (931-393-7280) for further information.

Participants received compliments and tips from various program managers and session chairs. This feedback most likely will lead to studies and collaborative initiatives extending and enhancing the articles presented.

Dr. Robert Moore, CEO for the Space Institute said “Joe, Trevor and their students are to be commended for not only the quantity of papers presented, but the quality is unsurpassed. I feel honored to work with such high caliber faculty the Space Institute employs. Needless to say, our students study and research in an environment which offers instruction from world class faculty and quality resources.”

First row LTR: Prof. Joe Majdalani, Georges and Michel Akiki, and Prof. Trevor Moeller.
Second row LTR: Brian Maicke, Josh Batterson, and Joel Thompson.

Photo by Laura Horton.