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Detonation Physics


Aerospace Systems Directorate, RQ/Engineering, Applied Sciences/Computer Sci

RO# Location
13.30.04.B8566 Edwards Air Force Base, CA 93524


Name E-mail Phone
Hargus, William Anthony 661.275.6799


Constant volume, or detonative, combustion is capable of extracting more energy than constant pressure, or deflagrative, combustion, thereby increasing energy conversion system performance. Rocket propulsion devices, such as rotating detonation rocket engines (RDRE), could potentially utilize a geometrically constrained train of detonation waves transverse to propellant injection in order to realize a more efficient energy extraction scheme. Detonation wave time separation over a single injector has been measured to vary between 20-250 μs. This fast, cyclic detonation wave coupled with the harsh combustion environment produces a highly dynamic pressure and temperature field that is challenging to both conventional diagnostic and simulation capabilities.

Both advanced diagnostics and simulation capabilities are sought to characterize flow properties before and after as well as within detonation wave of interest. The harsh environment within RDRE devices lends itself to both instantaneous measurements as well as phase resolved measurements averaged over thousands of detonation waves. Properties of interest include temperature and pressure before and after as well as within a detonation wave. Modeling and simulation of the detonation wave physics includes high fidelity, large eddy simulations (LES) of fully reactive chemistry to simulate detonation wave propagation in 3D geometries and injector response to harsh cyclic loading. Detonation combustion represents an emerging field of study with a strong potential for application in the rocket propulsion community and beyond.


F. K. Lu and E. M. Braun, “Rotating detonation wave propulsion: Experimental challenges, modeling and engine concepts,” Journal of Propulsion and Power, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 1125–1142, Sept.-Oct. 2014.

M. L. Fotia, F. Schauer, T. Kaemming, and J. Hoke, “Experimental study of the performance of a rotating detonation engine with nozzle,” Journal of Propulsion and Power, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. pp 674–681, May-June 2016.

R. D. Smith and S. S. Stanley, “Experimental Investigation of Continuous Detonation Rocket Engines for In-Space Propulsion,” Propulsion and Energy Forum, 52nd AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, July 25-27, 2016, Salt Lake City, UT.

Detonation; Diagnostics; Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine; Modeling and Simulation


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
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