Combined numerical and experimental investigation of a hobby-scale pulsejet

T. Geng*, A. Kiker, R. Ordon, A. V. Kuznetsov, T. F. Zeng, W. L. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The pulsejet, due to its simplicity, may be an ideal micropropulsion system, but has received very little attention since the mid 1950s. Here, modern computational and experimental tools are used to investigate the operation of a hobby-scale (50 cm overall length) pulsejet. Gas dynamics, acoustics, and chemical kinetics are all involved and are studied to gain an understanding of the various physical phenomena affecting pulsejet operation, scalability, and efficiency. A Bailey Machining Service hobby pulsejet is instrumented to obtain pressure, temperature, thrust, and frequency. CH* chemiluminescence is used to determine the combustion time and high-speed imaging of the reed valve operation is undertaken to determine the valve duty cycle. Laser Doppler velocimetry is used to measure the instantaneous exhaust velocity in these unsteady combustion devices. Numerical simulations are performed using CFX to model the 3-D compressible viscous flow in the pulsejet using the integrated Westbrook-Dryer single-step combustion model. The turbulent flow and reaction rate are modeled with the k-ε model and the eddy dissipation model, respectively. Simulation results provide physical insight into the pulsejet cycle; comparisons with experimental data obtained in this research are carried out. The traditional view of a pulsejet as a 1/4 wave tube operating on the Humphrey cycle is modified to account for valve operation and finite chemical kinetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-193
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Combined numerical and experimental investigation of a hobby-scale pulsejet'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this