Date of Award
Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Robert A. Frederick, Jr.
Solid propellant rockets., Rockets (Aeronautics)--Nozzles.
In a solid rocket motor, nozzle throat erosion is dictated by propellant composition, throat material properties, and operating conditions. Throat erosion has a significant effect on motor performance, so it must be accurately characterized to produce a good motor design. In order to correlate throat erosion rate to other parameters, it is first necessary to know what the throat diameter is throughout a motor burn. Thus, an indirect method and a direct method for determining throat diameter in a solid rocket motor are investigated in this thesis. The indirect method looks at the use of pressure and thrust data to solve for throat diameter as a function of time. The indirect method's proof of concept was shown by the good agreement between the ballistics model and the test data from a static motor firing. The ballistics model was within 10% of all measured and calculated performance parameters (e.g. average pressure, specific impulse, maximum thrust, etc.) for tests with throat erosion and within 6% of all measured and calculated performance parameters for tests without throat erosion. The direct method involves the use of x-rays to directly observe a simulated nozzle throat erode in a dynamic environment; this is achieved with a dynamic calibration standard. An image processing algorithm is developed for extracting the diameter dimensions from the x-ray intensity digital images. Static and dynamic tests were conducted. The measured diameter was compared to the known diameter in the calibration standard. All dynamic test results were within +6% / -7% of the actual diameter. Part of the edge detection method consists of dividing the entire x-ray image by an average pixel value, calculated from a set of pixels in the x-ray image. It was found that the accuracy of the edge detection method depends upon the selection of the average pixel value area and subsequently the average pixel value. An average pixel value sensitivity analysis is presented. Both the indirect method and the direct method prove to be viable approaches to determining throat diameter during solid rocket motor operation.
Colbaugh, Lauren, "Indirect and direct methods for measuring a dynamic throat diameter in a solid rocket motor" (2014). Theses. 91.