Quasi-steady combustion modeling of homogeneous solid propellants

Quinn Brewster, Steven F. Son

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Classical, linearized quasi-steady (QS) theory of unsteady combustion of homogeneous solid propellants (both pressure- and radiation-driven) is reexamined. Zeroth order, high activation energy (E/RT ≫ 1), decomposition is assumed. Many prevailing ideas about condensed-phase pyrolsis are challenged and several misconceptions are corrected. The results show the following: (1) the inadequacy of simple Arrhenius surface pyrolysis; (2) that the common assumption of zero Jacobian (δ or ns) parameter is physically unrealistic for pressure-driven combustion except perhaps in plateau regions; (3) that classical quasi-steady theory is not necessarily incompatible with observed pressure instability [Re{Rp} > 0] in mesa propellants; (4) that measured steady-state combustion parameters (e.g., Ec = 2Es = 40 kcal/mol for double base propellant) and quasi-steady theory can model T-burner data reasonably well; (5) that the preexponential parameters in the pyrolysis expression play a critical role in the dynamic response (particularly T0 and Qc); (6) that thermal radiation also plays an important role through its effect on the steady state sensitivity parameters, particularly the k (or σp) parameter. An approach is outlined for modeling dynamic combustion response based on zeroth order pyrolysis which allows difficult parameters, such as r and δ (or A and ns) to be obtained from relatively easily measured ones, k and ν (or B and n), Ec, Qc, and Ts. An approach for determining these fundamental combustion parameters using radiation-driven unsteady burning tests is described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-26
Number of pages16
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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