Vortex Shedding, Vortex-driven Instabilities, Solid Rocket Motor, Active Control, Cold-flow Simulation


Control of vortex-driven instabilities was demonstrated via a scaled-down, cold-flow simulation that modeled closed-end acoustics. When vortex shedding frequencies couple with the natural acoustic modes of a choked chamber, potentially damaging low-frequency instabilities may arise. Although passive solutions can be effective, an active control solution is preferable. An experiment was performed to demonstrate an active control scheme for the reduction of vortex-driven oscillations. A non-reacting experiment using a primary flow of air, where both the duct exit and inlet are choked, simulated the closed-end acoustics. Two plates, separated by 1.27 cm, produced the vortex shedding phenomenon at the chamber's first longitudinal mode. Two active control schemes, closed-loop and open-loop, were studied via a cold-flow simulation for validating the effects of reducing vortex shedding instabilities in the system. Actuation for both control schemes was produced by using a secondary injection method. The actuation system consisted of pulsing compressed air from a modifed, 2-stroke model airplane engine, controlled and powered by a DC motor. The use of open-loop only active control was not highly effective in reducing the amplitude of the first longitudinal acoustic mode, near 93 Hz, when the secondary injection was pulsed at the same modal frequency. This was due to the uncontrolled phasing of the secondary injection system. A Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) signal was added to the open-loop control scheme to correct for improper phasing of the secondary injection flow relative to the primary flow. This addition allowed the motor speed to be intermittently increased to a higher RPM before returning to the desired open-loop control state. This proved to be effective in reducing the pressure disturbance by approximately 46%. A closed-loop control scheme was then test for its effectiveness in controlling the phase of the secondary injection. Feedback of the system's state was determined by placing a dynamic pressure transducer near the chamber exit. Closed-loop active control, using the designed secondary injection system, was proven as an effective means of reducing the problematic instabilities. A 50% reduction in the FFT RMS amplitude was realized by utilizing a Proportional-Derivative controller to modify the phase of the secondary injection.


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Graduation Date





Leonessa, Alexander


Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (M.S.A.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Aerospace Engineering








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)