Internal flow effects on performance of combustion powered actuators
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Earlier investigations of Combustion Powered Actuation (COMPACT) have demonstrated its utility for high-speed aerodynamic flow control. In this actuation approach, momentary (pulsed) actuation jets are produced by the ignition of a mixture of gaseous fuel and oxidizer within a cubic-centimeter scale chamber. The combustion process yields a high pressure burst and the ejection of a high-speed exhaust jet. The present thesis focuses on characterization of the effects of the internal flow (which is altered through the fuel and oxidizer inlet streams) on mixing and flame propagation within the actuator's combustion chamber, and thereby on actuator operation and performance. A test chamber with a grid of interchangeable air and fuel inlets was used for parametric investigations of the effects of inlet size and location. Actuator performance is characterized using dynamic pressure measurements and phase-locked Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) of the combustor's internal flow field in the presence and absence of the active combustion process. Over the range tested, increased momentum of the air inlet jet for a given flow rate improves the actuator performance by increasing bulk velocities and small-scale motions within the chamber, thus yielding net higher flame propagation speed and subsequently faster pressure rise and higher pressure peak. Variation in inlet location that results in swirling flow within the chamber yields higher internal pressures while air flow over the spark ignition site yields lower internal pressures and erratic combustion. Improved refill and combustion processes will lead to enhanced performance combustor designs.