Aerothermodynamic Measurements in Hypersonic Non-Equilibrium Flows

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High enthalpy arc-jets are unique facilities particularly suited for producing complex flows in the aerospace field, such as the aerothermodynamics of a re-entry vehicle. Arc-jets are often used to evaluate important design factors that include heat shield materials and vehicle design. Characterization of these facilities is important, as studies often aim to match specific in-flight environments during experiments. Due to the complex environment produced by an arc-jet, with effects such as thermodynamic and chemical non-equilibrium occurring in the flow, characterization experiments are significantly more difficult than in conventional blow-down wind tunnels. The current work aims to characterize an arc-jet facility through spatially-resolved measurements of flow unsteadiness, temperature, and velocity. To achieve this goal, a non-intrusive imaging technique called “planar laser-induced fluorescence” was performed in the NASA Langley Hypersonic Materials Environmental Test System arc-jet facility. The experimental data was analysed to produce the quantitative measurements in multiple regions of the flow around a blunt body specimen. A three-temperature low fidelity numerical solver was created to simulate the flow in order to investigate thermal non-equilibrium effects occurring outside the imaging region in the arc-jet nozzle. Unsteadiness in the test section of the arc-jet was minimized by analyzing a subset of data assessing the gas injection configuration. Radial velocity, rotational temperature and translational temperature measurements are provided that can be used to validate future computational studies. The temperature measurements revealed rotational non-equilibrium occurring behind the bow-shock near the specimen surface. Computational results show the facility is capable of producing thermal non-equilibrium flow in the arc-jet nozzle. This work provides the first experimental and computational evidence of thermal trans-rotational non-equilibrium occurring in multiple regions of this arc-jet facility. Significant improvements to the methodology are also identified as recommendations for future arc-jet characterization studies.
thermodynamics, aerodynamics, imaging, compressible flow, laser-induced fluorescence
McDougall, C. C. (2022). Aerothermodynamic measurements in hypersonic non-equilibrium flows (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from