Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Joseph Majdalani

Committee Members

Gary A. Flandro, John Steinhoff, Kenneth Kimble


Experimental measurements suggest that a new source of instability in rocket motors is due to hydrodynamic disturbances. These disturbances, if ignored, could impact our assessment of rocket motor performance. In this work, the corresponding problem of hydrodynamic instability is considered. A mathematical model for these disturbances is carried out by perturbing the continuity and momentum equations. A one dimensional model which represents the wave disturbances in time and space is implemented to quantify the amplification rate, in time or space, and the wave amplitude. The only available measurements of these disturbances arise in cold flow experiments that simulate the gas dynamics in a solid rocket motor and where no real combustion takes place. The reason for cold flow experiments is the difficulty in measuring the hydrodynamic disturbances in real rockets. To gain better understanding of the interaction between hydrodynamic and combustion driven disturbances, a new approach is implemented that accounts for hydrodynamic effects on the combustion instability net system amplitude. In this model the impact of spatial hydrodynamic vortices in solid rocket motors is projected on the net system amplitude calculations. Results show that some factors play a significant role in controlling the hydrodynamic disturbances. These factors include the injection Mach number, chamber aspect ratio, admittance function and the tangential wave number. Here, the influence of each of these factors is examined. Finally, the hydrodynamic energy density is calculated and found to be small in comparison to the vortical-acoustic one.

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