Nonsteady burning phenomena of solid propellants - theory and experiments

H. Krier, J. S. T’ien, W. A. Sirignano, M. Summerfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nonsteady burning of solid propellants is being investigated both theoretically and experimentally, with attention to combustion instability, transient burning during motor ignition, and extinction by depressurization. The theory is based on a one-dimensional model of the combustion zone consisting of a thin gaseous flame and a solid heat-up zone. The nonsteady gaseous flame behavior is deduced from experimental steady-burning characteristics; the response of the solid phase is described by the time-dependent Fourier equation. Solutions were obtained for dynamic burning rate, flame temperature, and burnt gas entropy under different pressure variations; two methods were employed. First, the equations were linearized and solved by standard techniques. Then, to observe nonlinear effects, solutions were obtained by digital computer for prescribed pressure variations. One significant result is that a propellant with a large heat evolution at the surface is intrinsically unstable under dynamic conditions even though a steady-state solution exists. Another interesting result is that the gas entropy amplitude and phase depend critically on the frequency of pressure oscillation and that either near-isentropic or near-isothermal oscillations may be observable. Experiments with an oscillating combustion chamber and with a special combustor equipped for sudden pressurization tend to support the latter conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-285
Number of pages8
JournalAIAA journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1968
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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