Journell_MSAAE_Thesis.pdf (19.73 MB)

High-Speed Diagnostics in a Natural Gas-Air Rotating Detonation Engine at Elevated Pressure

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posted on 11.06.2019 by Christopher Lee Journell
Gas turbine engines have operated on the Brayton cycle for decades, each decade only gaining approximately one to two percent in thermal efficiency as a result of efforts
to improve engine performance. Pressure-gain combustion in place of constant-pressure combustion in a Brayton cycle could provide a drastic step-change in the thermal efficiency of these devices, leading to reductions in fuel consumption and emissions production. Rotating Detonation Engines (RDEs) have been widely researched as a viable option for pressure-gain combustion. Due to the extremely high frequencies associated with operation of an RDE, the development and application of high-speed diagnostics techniques for RDEs is necessary to further understand and
develop these devices.

An application of high-speed diagnostic techniques in a natural gas-air RDE at conditions relevant to land-based power generation is presented. Diagnostics included high-frequency chamber pressure measurements, chemiluminescence imaging of the annulus, and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurements at the exit plane of the RDE. Results from a case with two detonation waves rotating clockwise (aft looking forward) in the combustor annulus are presented. Detonation surface plots are created from chemiluminescence images and allow for the extraction of properties such as dominant frequency modes and wave number, speed, and direction. The chamber frequency for the case with two co-rotating waves in the chamber is found to be 3.46 kHz and corresponds to average individual wave speeds of 68% Chapman-Jouguet (CJ) velocity. Dynamic Mode Decomposition (DMD) is applied and indicates the presence of two strong detonation waves rotating clockwise and periodically intersecting with weaker, counter-rotating waves in the annulus at certain times during operation. Singular-Spectrum Analysis (SSA) is used to isolate modes corresponding to the detonation frequency in the signals of velocity components obtained from PIV, maintaining instantaneous phase information. Axial and azimuthal components of velocity are observed to remain nearly 180 degrees out of phase. Lastly, approximate angles for the trailing oblique shocks in the combustion chamber are calculated.


Degree Type

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Carson D. Slabaugh

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Stephen D. Heister

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert P. Lucht



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