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Advances in Aircraft and Spacecraft Science
  Volume 1, Number 4, October 2014, pages 409-425

Valve actuation effects on discrete monopropellant slug delivery in a micro-scale fuel injection system
M. Ryan McDevitt and Darren L. Hitt

    Converging flows of a gas and a liquid at a microchannel cross junction, under proper conditions, can result in the formation of periodic, dispersed microslugs. This microslug formation phenomenon has been proposed as the basis for a fuel injection system in a novel, \'discrete\' monopropellant microthruster designed for use in next-generation miniaturized satellites. Previous experimental studies demonstrated the ability to generate fuel slugs with characteristics commensurate with the intended application during steady-state operation. In this work, numerical and experimental techniques are used to study the effect of valve actuation on slug characteristics, and the results are used to compare with equivalent steady-state slugs. Computational simulations of a valve with a 1 ms valve-actuation cycle show that as the ratio of the response time of the valve to the fully open time is increased, transient effects can increase slug length by up to 17%. The simulations also demonstrate that the effect of the valve is largely independent of surface tension coefficient, which is the thermophysical parameter most responsible for slug formation characteristics. Flow visualization experiments performed using a miniature valve with a 20 ms response time showed less than a 1% change in the length of slugs formed during the actuation cycle. The results of this study indicate that impulse bit and thrust calculations can discount transient effects for slower valves, but as valve technology improves transient effects may become more significant.
Key Words
    microfluidics; micropropulsion; CFD
M. Ryan McDevitt and Darren L. Hitt : Mechanical Engineering Program, School of Engineering, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA

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