Unsteady Solid-Propellant Pressure Combustion Response Using a Piston Burner

B. Saarloos, M. Q. Brewster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A small-scale solid-propellant laboratory burner has been designed to operate under piston-driven oscillating conditions from 40-400 Hz and 300-900 kPa mean pressure, with 10% amplitudes. The device was used to investigate the burning-rate response of a wide-distribution, bimodal AP (2:200 μm)-HTPB (IPDI) composite propellant (MURI TKC#5b). Results show that mean pressure and exit temperature decrease with increasing frequency because of increased heat transfer associated with oscillatory gas motion. Propellant burning rate is calculated numerically from pressure, volume, and frequency data using mass and energy balances. The dynamic burning rate response appears to be nearly linear at low frequencies (<150 Hz) and increasingly nonlinear at higher frequencies because of an increasing combustion response magnitude with frequency and nearly constant relative pressure amplitude. In the range of frequencies determined to be most linear (40-150 Hz), the magnitude of the pressure-coupled frequency response ranges from 2 to 7 ± 1, with burning rate lagging pressure by 50-75 deg. The results demonstrate the potential for the piston burner to measure pressure frequency response at low frequencies and also to measure nonlinear dynamic burn rates over a range of frequencies at high spectral resolution within a single test. The results also demonstrate that nonlinear response can appear as spectral structure in the apparent linear response when the data are interpreted linearly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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