Recently, novel experimental evidence of continuous rotating detonations for gaseous H2/O2 propellants with a rotating detonation rocket engine (RDRE) was attained on the 3-inch Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Distribution A RDRE, with the fuel and oxidizer injectors modified for H2/O2 gas propellants. Evident in previous experiments, detonation instabilities arising from upstream deflagration, from recirculation zones, and from insufficient gas mixing challenged resolution of detonation wave behavior from back-end imaging with the available optical equipment. Images were often over-illuminated from both the high amount of deflagration in the plume and the higher density of detonation waves in the annulus coupled with the small detonation cell size for H2/O2 gas propellants. Additionally, conventional optical systems attenuate the ultraviolet (UV) emission range (~308-320 nm wavelength) from the primary combustion species. To overcome these challenges are two methodologies that still utilize optical back-end imaging: (1) CH* chemiluminescence with fuel doping, and (2) OH* chemiluminescence. The first methodology utilizes doping CH4 into the H2/O2 gas mixture at a relatively small concentration of up to 5% by total mass flow rate to leverage CH* chemiluminescence at 409 ± 32 nm wavelength. The second methodology utilizes the combination of an OH* bypass filter for 308–320 nm wavelength to filter other emissions and an intensifier to amplify the detonation wave OH* emission. As of the present research, the first methodology was investigated across a regime of operating conditions, with planned future testing outlined to facilitate comparable data acquisition utilizing the second methodology.


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Graduation Date





Ahmed, Kareem


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


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Aerospace Engineering; Space System Design and Engineering




CFE0008305; DP0023742



Release Date

December 2023

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)