Comparison between numerically simulated and experimentally measured flowfield quantities behind a pulsejet

Tao Geng, Fei Zheng, Andrey V. Kuznetsov*, William L. Roberts, Daniel E. Paxson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Pulsed combustion is receiving renewed interest as a potential route to higher performance in air breathing propulsion and ground based power generation systems. Pulsejets offer a simple experimental device with which to study unsteady combustion phenomena and validate simulations. Previous computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations focused primarily on pulsejet combustion and exhaust processes. This paper describes a new inlet sub-model which simulates the fluidic and mechanical operation of a valved pulsejet head. The governing equations for this submodel are described. Sub-model validation is provided through comparisons of simulated and experimentally measured reed valve motion, and time averaged inlet mass flow rate. The updated pulsejet simulation, with the inlet sub-model implemented, is validated through comparison with experimentally measured combustion chamber pressure, inlet mass flow rate, operational frequency, and thrust. Additionally, the simulated pulsejet exhaust flowfield, which is dominated by a starting vortex ring, is compared with particle imaging velocimetry (PIV) measurements on the bases of velocity, vorticity, and vortex location. The results show good agreement between simulated and experimental data. The inlet sub-model is shown to be critical for the successful modeling of pulsejet operation. This sub-model correctly predicts both the inlet mass flow rate and its phase relationship with the combustion chamber pressure. As a result, the predicted pulsejet thrust agrees very well with experimental data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-667
Number of pages15
JournalFlow, Turbulence and Combustion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


  • Exhaust flow field
  • Pulsejet
  • Turbulence
  • Valve model
  • Vortex location

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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