The compression provided by a scramjet inlet is an important parameter in its design. It must be low enough to limit thermal and structural loads and stagnation pressure losses, but high enough to provide the conditions favourable for combustion. Inlets are typically designed to achieve sufficient compression without accounting for the fluidic, and subsequently thermal, compression provided by the fuel injection, which can enable robust combustion in a low-compression engine. This is investigated using Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes numerical simulations of a simplified scramjet engine designed to have insufficient compression to auto-ignite fuel in the absence of thermofluidic compression. The engine was designed with a wide rectangular combustor and a single centrally located injector, in order to reduce three-dimensional effects of the walls on the fuel plume. By varying the injected mass flow rate of hydrogen fuel (equivalence ratios of 0.22, 0.17, and 0.13), it is demonstrated that higher equivalence ratios lead to earlier ignition and more rapid combustion, even though mean conditions in the combustor change by no more than 5% for pressure and 3% for temperature with higher equivalence ratio. By supplementing the lower equivalence ratio with helium to achieve a higher mass flow rate, it is confirmed that these benefits are primarily due to the local compression provided by the extra injected mass. Investigation of the conditions around the fuel plume indicated two connected mechanisms. The higher mass flow rate for higher equivalence ratios generated a stronger injector bow shock that compresses the free-stream gas, increasing OH radical production and promoting ignition. This was observed both in the higher equivalence ratio case and in the case with helium. This earlier ignition led to increased temperature and pressure downstream and, consequently, stronger combustion. The heat release from combustion provided thermal compression in the combustor, further increasing combustion efficiency.
Shock Waves – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 2, 2017
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