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Published January 2007 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Design and Characterization of a Hypervelocity Expansion Tube Facility


We report on the design and characterization of a 152 mm diameter expansion tube capable of accessing a range of high enthalpy test conditions with Mach numbers up to 7.1 for aerodynamic studies. Expansion tubes have the potential to offer a wide range of test flow conditions as gas acceleration is achieved through interaction with an unsteady expansion wave rather than expansion through a fixed area ratio nozzle. However, the range of test flow conditions is in practice limited by a number of considerations such as short test time and large amplitude flow disturbances. We present a generalized design strategy for small-scale expansion tubes. As a starting point, ideal gas dynamic calculations for optimal facility design to maximize test time at a given Mach number test condition are presented, together with a correction for the expansion head reflection through a non-simple region. A compilation of practical limitations that have been identified for expansion tube facilities such as diaphragm rupture and flow disturbance minimization is then used to map out a functional design parameter space. Experimentally, a range of test conditions have been verified through pitot pressure measurements and analysis of schlieren images of flow over simple geometries. To date there has been good agreement between theoretical and experimental results.

Additional Information

© 2007 by the University of Illinois. All rights reserved. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission. AAA 2007-1327. This research was funded in part through a Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) granted by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), with Dr John Schmisseur as Technical Monitor. Special thanks to Matthew D. Parker for test section design and construction, and data acquisition system installation, to Matt McGilvray for the design of the transducer mounts, and to Dr. Richard Morgan for helpful discussions.

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