Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Robert A. Frederick

Committee Member

D. Keith Hollingsworth

Committee Member

David M. Lineberry

Committee Member

D. Brian Landrum

Committee Member

Kunning G. Xu


Hybrid propellant rockets., Rocket engines--Combustion.


This experimental and theoretical work examines the effects of gaseous oxidizer flow rates and pressure on the regression rates of porous fuels for hybrid rocket applications. Testing was conducted using polyethylene as the porous fuel and both gaseous oxygen and nitrous oxide as the oxidizer. Nominal test articles were tested using 200, 100, 50, and 15 micron fuel pore sizes. Pressures tested ranged from atmospheric to 1160 kPa for the gaseous oxygen tests and from 207 kPa to 1054 kPa for the nitrous oxide tests, and oxidizer injection velocities ranged from 35 m/s to 80 m/s for the gaseous oxygen tests and from 7.5 m/s to 16.8 m/s for the nitrous oxide tests. Regression rates were determined using pretest and posttest length measurements of the solid fuel. Experimental results demonstrated that the regression rate of the porous axial-injection, end-burning hybrid was a function of the chamber pressure, as opposed to the oxidizer mass flux typical in conventional hybrids. Regression rates ranged from approximately 0.75 mm/s at atmospheric pressure to 8.89 mm/s at 1160 kPa for the gaseous oxygen tests and 0.21 mm/s at 207 kPa to 1.44 mm/s at 1054 kPa for the nitrous oxide tests. The analytical model was developed based on a standard ablative model modified to include oxidizer flow through the grain. The heat transfer from the flame was primarily modeled using an empirically determined flame coefficient that included all heat transfer mechanisms in one term. An exploratory flame model based on the Granular Diffusion Flame model used for solid rocket motors was also adapted for comparison with the empirical flame coefficient. This model was then evaluated quantitatively using the experimental results of the gaseous oxygen tests as well as qualitatively using the experimental results of the nitrous oxide tests. The model showed agreement with the experimental results indicating it has potential for giving insight into the flame structure in this motor configuration. Results from the model suggested that both kinetic and diffusion processes could be relevant to the combustion depending on the chamber pressure.



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