Measurements and Computations of Mass Flow and Momentum Flux through Short Tubes in Rarefied Gases
AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB EDWARDS AFB CA PROPULSION DIRECTORATE
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Gas flows through orifices and short tubes have been extensively studied from the 1960s through the 1980s for both fundamental and practical reasons. These flows are a basic and often important element of various modern gas driven instruments. Recent advances in micro- and nanoscale technologies have paved the way for a generation of miniaturized devices in various application areas, from clinical analyses to biochemical detection to aerospace propulsion. The latter is the main area of interest of this study, where rarefied gas flow into a vacuum through short tubes with thickness-to-diameter ratios varying from 0.015 to 1.2 is investigated both experimentally and numerically with kinetic and continuum approaches. Helium and nitrogen gases are used in the range of Reynolds numbers from 0.02 to 770 based on the tube diameter, corresponding to Knudsen numbers from 40 down to about 0.001. Propulsion properties of relatively thin and thick tubes are examined. Good agreement between experimental and numerical results is observed for mass flow rate and momentum flux, the latter being corrected for the experimental facility background pressure. For thick-to-thin tube ratios of mass flow and momentum flux versus pressure, a minimum is observed at a Knudsen number of about 0.5. A short tube propulsion efficiency is shown to be much higher than that of a thin orifice. The effect of surface specularity on a thicker tube specific impulse was found to be relatively small.
- Fluid Mechanics
- Unmanned Spacecraft