Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Jason T. Cassibry

Committee Member

Robert A. Frederick

Committee Member

Kunning Xu


Particle accelerators., Hydrodynamics., Nuclear fusion., Space vehicles--Propulsion systems., Rocket engines--Thrust.


Pulsed plasma accelerators are utilized for in-space propulsion and drivers for inertial fusion concepts. Theoretical models are necessary to assist in diagnostic analysis and for developing scaling laws. SPFMax is a new 3D code which uses smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) to simulate fluid flow, and has been designed specifically for modeling plasmas produced by these pulsed devices. A set of gasdynamic test cases were established and utilized to verify the accuracy of SPFMax for modeling the gas dynamics in a railgun. The free expansion confirmed that the gas expands supersonically without exceeding the predicted maximum value. With the square wave test, SPFMax advected the waves with floating point accuracy. Shocks, expansion waves, and contact surfaces were resolved in both 1D and 3D tests with a relatively low number of particles



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