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Published July 2006 | Published
Journal Article Open

Stagnation Hugoniot Analysis for Steady Combustion Waves in Propulsion Systems


The combustion mode in a steady-flow propulsion system has a strong influence on the overall efficiency of the system. To evaluate the relative merits of different modes, we propose that it is most appropriate to keep the upstream stagnation state fixed and the wave stationary within the combustor. Because of the variable wave speed and upstream stagnation state, the conventional Hugoniot analysis of combustion waves is inappropriate for this purpose. To remedy this situation, we propose a new formulation of the analysis of stationary combustion waves for a fixed initial stagnation state, which we call the stagnation Hugoniot. For a given stagnation enthalpy, we find that stationary detonation waves generate a higher entropy rise than deflagration waves. The combustion process generating the lowest entropy increment is found to be constant-pressure combustion. These results clearly demonstrate that the minimum entropy property of detonations derived from the conventional Hugoniot analysis does not imply superior performance in all propulsion systems. This finding reconciles previous analysis of flowpath performance analysis of detonation-based ramjets with the thermodynamic cycle analysis of detonation-based propulsion systems. We conclude that the thermodynamic analysis of propulsion systems based on stationary detonation waves must be formulated differently than for propagating waves, and the two situations lead to very different results.

Additional Information

© 2005 by California Institute of Technology. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission. Presented as Paper 2004-1033 at the AIAA 42nd Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV, 5 January 2004; received 10 August 2004; revision received 22 November 2005; accepted for publication 5 October 2005. This work was supported by Stanford University Contract PY-1905 under Department of Navy Grant N00014-02-1-0589 Pulse Detonation Engines: Initiation, Propagation, and Performance. We thank the reviewers for their constructive suggestions, particularly the encouragement of the development and inclusion of the explicit relationships given in the appendix.

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