Determination of the Rheological Model of Gel Propellant and Flow Characterization of Gel in a Pressure Swirl Injector

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Malek-Ashtar University of Technology, I.R. IRAN

2 Department of Aero Space Engineering, K. N. Toosi University of Technology, I.R. IRAN


Gel propellants have the advantages of both liquid and solid propellants and present a promising future for the aerospace industry. Many gel propellants have shear-thinning behavior, which complicates their behavior in propulsion systems, especially the atomization process. On the other hand, the toxicity of many gel propellants makes the study of their dynamic behavior difficult. In the present work, non-toxic gel simulants were first prepared using a variety of gelling agents. Next, a gel simulant with a behavior similar to UDMH's basic gel fuel was selected from the prepared simulants. The dynamic behavior of the selected simulant gel was studied by different shear-thinning fluid models, and the most suitable rheological model was chosen. Eventually, the simulant gel dynamic behavior was simulated in a pressure swirl injector using the selected rheological model, and the results were compared to the experimental data. The results indicated that the simulant gel made from 0.85 wt.% of HPMC gelling agent is very similar to the basic UDMH gel in terms of dynamic behavior and power law index. Furthermore, among the rheological models, the Carreau-Yasuda model was able to predict the selected gel simulant behavior in a wide range of shear rates. A comparison of the experimental tests and numerical simulation of the gel simulant flow inside the swirl injector revealed that using the calculated constants of the Carreau-Yasuda model can predict the simulant gel dynamic behavior and the functional characteristics such as mass flow rate, discharge coefficient, and spray cone angle with less than 6% error.


Main Subjects

[1] Wang F., Chen J., Zhang T., Guan H., Li H., Experimental Study on Spray Characteristics of ADN/Water Based Gel Propellant with Impinging Jet Injectors, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 45: 1357-1365 (2020).
[2] Rahimi S., Peretz A., Natan B., On Shear Rheology of Gel Propellants, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 32: 165-174 (2007).
[3] Varma M., High Shear Rheometry of Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine Gel, Chemical Rocket Propulsion. Springer, 519-542 (2017).
[4] Gupta B., Varma M., Munjal N., Rheological Studies on Virgin and Metallized Unsymmetrical Dimethyl Hydrazine Gelled Systems, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 11: 45-52 (1986).
[5] Padwal M.B., Natan B., Mishra D., Gel Propellants, Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, 83: 100885 (2021).
[6] Saberi M.A., Rezaei M.R., Tavangar S. Experimental Investigation of Characteristic Length Influence on a Combustion Chamber Performance with Liquid and Gelled UDMH/IRFNA Biā€Propellants, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 44: 1154-1159 (2019).
[7] Yoon C., Heister S. D., Xia G. Merkle C. L., Numerical Modeling of Injection of Shear-Thinning Gel Propellants Through Plain-Orifice Atomizer, Journal of Propulsion and Power, 27: 944-954 (2013).
[8] Baek G., Kim S., Han J., Kang C. K., Atomization Characteristics of Impinging Jets of Gel Material Containing Nanoparticles, Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics, 166: 1272-1285 (2011).
[9] Ciezki H. K., Naumann K. W., Some Aspects on Safety and Environmental Impact of the German Green Gel Propulsion Technology, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, 41: 539-547 (2016).
[10] Li M. G., Wu Y., Cao L., Yuan Y., Chen X., Han J., Wu W., Rheological Properties of Organic Kerosene Gel Fuel. Gels, 8: 507-519 (2022).
[11] Yoon, C., Heister S. D., Xia G., Merkle C. L., “Numerical Simulations of Gel Propellant Flow Through Orifices”, 45th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, 50-61 (2009).
[12] Madlener K., Ciezki H.K., Estimation of Flow Properties of Gelled Fuels with Regard to Propulsion Systems, Journal of Propulsion and Power, 28: 113-121 (2012).
[13] Jyoti B., Varma M., Baek  S.W., “Comparative Study of Rheological Properties of Ethanol and UDMH Based Gel Propellants”, 5th European Conference for Aeronautics and Space Sciences, 70-86 (2013).
[14] Mallory J., Sojka P., “Jet Impingement and Primary Atomization of Non-Newtonian Liquids”, Ph.D. Thesis Purdue University (2012).
[15] Stiefel A.D.,  Kirchberger  C. U., Ciezki H. K., Kurilov M., Kurth G., The Flow of Gels Through a Nozzle Like Geometry, International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion, 19: 21-33 (2020).
[16] Mandal A., Jog M.A., Xue J., Ibrahim A.A.,  Flow of Power-Law Fluids in Simplex Atomizers, International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, 29: 1494-1503 (2008).
[17] Rezaeimoghaddam M., Elahi R., Modarres Razavi M.R., Ayani, M.B. Modeling of Non-Newtonian Fluid Flow Within Simplex Atomizers, Engineering Systems Design and Analysis, 49170: 549-556 (2010).
[18]  Yang L. J., Fu Q. F., Qu Y. Y., Zhang W., Du M. L., Xu B. R., Spray Characteristics of Gelled Propellants in Swirl Injectors, Fuel, 97: 253-261 (2012).
[19] Kim H., Ko T., Kim S., Yoon W., Spray Characteristics of Aluminized-Gel Fuels Sprayed Using Pressure-Swirl Atomizer, Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics, 249: 36-47 (2017).
[20] Samanpour  H., Ahmadi N., Jabbary A., Effects of Applying Brand-New Designs on the Performance of PEM Fuel Cell and Water Flooding Phenomena, Iranian Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (IJCCE), 41(2): 618-635 (2022).
[21] Fu Q., Ge F., Wang W., Yang L., Spray Characteristics of Gel Propellants in an Open-End Swirl Injector, Fuel, 254: 115555-115565 (2019).
[22] Cho J., Lee D., Kang T., Moon H., Study on Spray Characteristics of Simulant Gel in Pressure Swirl Injector, International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences, 23: 794–803 (2022).
[23] Sun H., Jian J., Li Zh., Yuan Ch., Liu P., Jiang Y., Rheological and Atomization Behavior of Glycyrrhizic Acid Based Supramolecular Gel Propellant Simulant, Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 640: 128460 (2022).
[24] Morrison F.A., Understanding Rheology, Oxford University Press, (2001).
[25] Chhabra R.P., Richardson J.F., Non-Newtonian Flow and Applied Rheology: Engineering Applications, Butterworth-Heinemann, (2011).
[26] Ahmadi N., Rezazadeh S., Asgharikia M., Shabahangnia E., Optimization of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Performance by Geometrical Changes, Iranian Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (IJCCE), 36(2): 89-106 (2017).
[27] Baek G., Kim S., Han J., Kang C. K., Review on Pressure Swirl Injector in Liquid Rocket Engine, Acta Astronautica, 145: 174-198 (2018).
[28] Jung H.S., Kim H.C., Park W.H., Robust Methylcellulose Hydrogels Reinforced with Chitin Nanocrystals, Carbohydrate Polymers, 213: 311-319 (2019).