Available Technology

Rocket Nozzle Side-Load Analysis Software

Aeroelastic model of nozzle response to combined thrust and side loads
The algorithm is based on an aeroelastic modeling capability that couples the necessary structural dynamics component into an anchored computational fluid dynamics methodology. The fluid dynamics component is an unstructured-grid pressure-based computational formulation, whereas the structural dynamics component is based on the framework of modal analysis. Transient aeroelastic nozzle startup analyses at sea level have been conducted to demonstrate the successful simulation of nozzle-wall deformation with this tightly coupled algorithm. The computational fluid dynamics methodology is based on a three-dimensional, finite-volume, viscous, chemically reacting, unstructured-grid, and pressure-based formulation. Time-varying transport equations of continuity, species continuity, momentum, total enthalpy, turbulent kinetic energy, and turbulent kinetic energy dissipation are solved using a time-marching subiteration scheme, thus providing transient load insights. The structural response due to fluid flow actions are analyzed using direct finite-element analysis. The new capability has been demonstrated to provide computed generalized displacements, deformed nozzle shapes, deformation contours, physical lateral displacements, and axial nozzle-wall pressure profiles. Currently designed to be run on large computers, the software is ready for modification to enable use in a more practical parallel computing environment.
Patent Abstract: 
NASA&#39s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed rocket nozzle load analysis software.Lateral nozzle forces are known to cause severe structural damage during testing of any new rocket engine configuration under development. While three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics methodology has been previously demonstrated to describe major side-load physics on rigid nozzles, actual hot-fire tests often show nozzle structure non-rigid flexing behavior during major side-load events. This can lead to structural damage. The innovators at NASA&#39s Marshall Space Flight Center have expanded and improved upon their rigid-wall analysis model and have created new analysis software to provide an expanded modeling picture that accounts for the two-way responses between the rigid or flexible structure and fluid. This analysis capability now offers a more complete and realistic analysis of rocket-nozzle side-wall loading during the transient start-up phase of hot-fire rocket engine testing.

Enables modeling of transient-load analysis of rocket engine nozzle walls prior to actual hot-fire rocket engine testing.


Aerospace: Development of new rocket engine designs and configurations of any type or size, including varying propellant systems.

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
May 2, 2018
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