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Rarefied Gas Dynamics

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Vincent Lijoand Heuy-Dong Kim*

Direct Simulation Monte Carlo Method

Vincent Lijoand Heuy-Dong Kim*

Key Words :

DSMC (), micro-nozzle (), rarefied gas (),shock waves (),supersonic flow ()

Abstract

In order to obtain insight into the physics of micro-nozzle flows, numerical simulations of rarefied flows in a

convergent-divergent micro-nozzle is investigated by using the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method. This

method can be applied to a wide range of rarefied flows within regimes that neither Navier-Stokes nor collisionless

Boltzmann equations are appropriate. In the present work, the molecular collision kinetics is modeled by the variable

hard sphere model and energy exchange between kinetic and internal modes is controlled by the phenomenological

Larsen- Borgnakke statistical model. Simulations are performed by considering a non-reacting gas model consisting of

two chemical species, N2 and O2 for various back pressures and results are presented for the computed flow field

quantities. Comparisons are made with the available experimental data, and the factors which affect the solutions are

discussed. This study revealed that in micro-nozzles surface effects play the main role on the flow structure. Separate

calculations are also performed for the macro-nozzle flows and detailed comparisons between typical rarefied and

continuum behaviors are made.

which is defined as the ratio of the molecular mean free

path

() to a characteristic geometry length (Dh)

1. INTRODUCTION

determines the degree of rarefaction and the applicability

of traditional flow models.

Micro propulsion system for the new generation

kT

micro-satellites is capable of delivering low thrust for

Kn =

=

(1)

orbital maintenance, small maneuvers to correct

Dh

2 2 pDh

trajectories and to overcome drag present in the space

where T is the temperature, the molecular diameter,

navigation. Because of the low moment of inertia of

p the pressure and k the Boltzmann constant (1.38x10-23

small spacecraft, the thrust requirements are mostly in

m2kg/s2K).

the micro-milli Newton (N-mN) range.

For Kn < 10-3, the flow is continuum flow, and it can

One of the simplest forms of micro propulsion system

be accurately modeled by the compressible Navier

is a cold gas thruster (micro-nozzle) in which, ideally, the

Stokes equations with classical no-slip boundary

cold gas or a mixture of gases pressurized in a chamber

conditions [1].

is accelerated in the convergent section of the nozzle to

Low pressure gas flows in micro-nozzles, can seldom

sonic conditions and then further to supersonic in the

be treated as fully continuum flow with no-slip boundary

divergent/expander section to the exit. These

conditions. These micro-flows usually experience

microthrusters can be applied individually or as array

continuum regime from gas chamber to the convergent

patterns to small satellite propulsive systems.

part of the nozzle, slip flow (10-2 < Kn <0.1) and

For micro sized devices, the Knudsen number (Kn)

transition regimes (0.1 < Kn <10) in the expander part.

collection of molecules, and not as a continuum (free

molecular flows, Kn>10). A kinetic approach such as the

direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method may

therefore be necessary in order to simulate gas flows

with Kn > 0.1 [3].For the slip flow regime, NavierStokes equations with discontinuous boundary conditions

University, Korea

E-mail: kimhd@ andong.ac.kr (Prof. H. D. Kim)

account.

For micro-nozzles with Kn < 10-2 , slip flow and

rarefaction effects can be neglected. In this regime,

micro-nozzle may be simulated based on the

compressible

Navier-Stokes

equations

[2-3].

Comparisons between numerical data and experiments

have been provided by [4-5]. For micro-nozzles with 10-2

< Kn <0.1, slip flow and rarefaction effects must be

accounted. This has been done by solving the

compressible Navier-Stokes equations withwall slip

boundary conditions [6-9], and through the use of Direct

Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) methods [10-11]. The

DSMC method which uncouples the molecular motions

and their collisions is valid for all Kn but expensive for

Kn < 1 [1].

The performance of such micro-nozzle is strongly

depending on size, geometry, size and viscous effects

which cannot be neglected due to the largely increased

surface-to-volume ratio. Moreover, with the low exhaust

pressures in space, these systems may behave differently

than conventional large scale nozzles. The conventional

nozzle and micro-nozzle flows are not quite the same and

many unexpected phenomena in microscales have been

reported. Hence, there is a great need to understand the

physical process present in microflows. The present

work studies macro and micro-nozzle flows based on the

compressible Navier-Stokes equations with no-slip (for

macro-nozzle), with slip (micro-nozzle) and DSMC

(micro-nozzle). The rhoCentralFoam (continuum solver)

based on the compressible Navier-Stokes equations and

dsmcFoam (discrete solver) of OpenFOAM [12] is used.

Hao et. al [5] experimentally investigated flow

through a micro-nozzle of planar configuration, in which

they measured the mass flow rates and pressures near the

throat for various outlet pressures. The geometry of the

micro-nozzle is shown in Fig. 1. Air was the working

fluid employed in the experiments. Due to the symmetry

of the flow, only one-half of the domain is considered for

the present simulations.

2.

2.1

jump condition (Eq. 4) are applied to the micro-nozzle

walls.

2 v u

u fluid uwall =

(2)

y

v

T fluid Twall =

2 T 2 T

T + 1 Pr y

(3)

momentum accommodation coefficient, T the thermal

accommodation coefficient, the gas density, u the

stream-wise velocity, the specific heat ratio, x and y the

tangential and wall-normal coordinate direction

respectively.

2.3

The particle-based method

A structured uniform mesh of about 60,000 cells is

used for the DSMC simulation of the micro-nozzle. The

cell size has been designed to approximately have five

molecules in every cell. The symmetry plane is treated as

specularly reflecting. Fig. 2 shows the computational

geometry along with boundary conditions. The

simulation of the nozzle uses the free stream utility at the

inlet and outlet of the nozzle. Collisions are treated by a

variable hard sphere model with the extension of

Larssen-Borgnakke method for exchanging translational

and rotational energy. The temperature of the micronozzle is sufficiently low for vibration energy to be

negligible. Hence the variable hard sphere model with

Larsen-Borgnakke

translational/rotational

energy

exchange treatment is considered adequate. The walls of

the nozzle scatter reflected molecules according the fully

diffuse Maxwellian distribution of a temperature of 300

K. The mesh used for the micro-nozzle RANS is similar

to that of DSMC. Simulations are performed by

considering a nonreacting gas model consisting of two

chemical species, N2 and O2. In the simulation for the

micro-nozzle case, every dsmc particle represents 5106

real molecules and the time step used is 610-10 s.

Numerical Methods

k turbulence model for closure, for the macro-nozzle.

The grid points are clustered around the macro-nozzle

wall. The numerical boundary conditions used are total

pressure (100kPa) and temperature (300 K) at the inlet,

static pressure outlet. Dry air with ideal gas

approximation is used as working fluid and viscosity is

calculated by Sutherland law. All the walls are

considered to be adiabatic with no slip.

2.2

The continuum method (Micro-nozzle)

The basic equations are the two-dimensional,

compressible, steady-state form of the Reynoldsaveraged NavierStokes (RANS) equations. The

Maxwell velocity-slip boundary condition (Eq. 3) in its

3.

Validation

3) predicted with the code and experiment [5] for various

pressure differences (p) between the inlet and the outlet.

The agreement between the predicted mass flow rate by

good and clearly demonstrates the proper behavior. In the

experiments, the upstream pressure (P0) is kept constant

(100 kpa) while the downstream pressure (pe) is varied.

flow rates.

4.

Fig. 4. Mach number distributions along the micronozzle axis.

different values of pe. The maximum Mach number for

the nozzle as per 1D theory is 2.0. But, for the micronozzle the maximum Mach number at the exit is around

1.5. The reduction is Mach number is due to the

boundary layer blockage and the higher temperature in

the micro-nozzle divergent part (Fig. 5). The higher

temperature is due to the dominant viscous losses

resulting from a larger surface-to-volume ratio when

compared to that of the conventional scale nozzle.

The more intense changes in these properties occur

for pe equal to 10 kPa, which induces steady supersonic

flows in the divergent part. It can be seen that, the Mach

distribution is over predicted by the 1D theory in the

divergent part, due to the failure in accounting the

viscous effects which are dominant in the micro-scale.

Also, for the conventional macro-nozzles, viscous effects

are virtually negligible and, as a consequence, these

nozzles can be accurately designed and analyzed based

on one-dimensional isentropic flow theory.

Shock waves appearing near the throat of the macronozzle are a result of the choice of sharp throat geometry

(c.f. Fig. 1). The flow is strongly deflected near the

throat, which results in the formation of a weak shock

along the divergent part of the macro-nozzle. However,

for the micro-nozzle, the supersonic flow will never

experience such an abrupt flow path change, since the

sonic throat is further downstream from the actual sharp

throat (c.f. Fig. 4). Hence, no shock waves are observed

near the throat of the micro-nozzle.

When operated under the same pressure ratio, there is

a strong shock occurring near the end of the macronozzle. However it can be seen that micro-nozzle flow

are devoid of shockwaves. The mysterious disappearance

of the shockwaves at the exit can be seen in Fig. 6.

From Fig. 5b, for a macro-nozzle, strong shocks are

observed near the exit, since the flow is highly overexpanded. The thick boundary layer present along the

divergent part of the micro-nozzle reduces the area ratio,

such that the flow became perfectly-expanded. As the

micro-nozzle flow is perfectly-expanded, no shockwaves

are observed near the exit.

shock waves appearing in the plume.

Nozzle Type

Pe

Thrust

Specific Impulse (s)

10

14.74

73.6 N

Micro

30

9.9

48.6 N

10

2.3 kN

52.5

Macro

30

1.5 kN

33.9

Table 1. Comparison of thrusts at different scales.

In micro-nozzles, the viscous boundary layer will have

which lowers the exit velocity considerably. Thrust is

also reduced due to the shock waves inside (cf. Table 1).

For micro-nozzles with thrusts in the N range, the

molecular mean free path is no longer smaller compared

to the dimensions of the nozzle and the DSMC method

the exit; perfectly-expanded micro-nozzle with

no shockwaves.

Fig. 5. Pressure distributions along the axis.

5.

Conclusions

carried with compressible NavierStokes equations with

classical no-slip boundary conditions, Maxwell velocityslip/Smoluchowski temperature jump conditions and

DSMC methods to understand the flows in micro-nozzles

when downscaling from macro to micro scale. In micronozzle, rarefaction effects strongly influence the overall

performance. Unlike the conventional nozzles, onedimensional isentropic flow theory is inadequate for

predicting the micro-nozzle flow physics. A comparison

between isentropic theory, numerical simulations and

experimental results has been presented for a micronozzle expanding into a low pressure ambient, showing a

good agreement between the available data. Also,

shockwaves occurring inside the macro-nozzle is

4

the possible reasons for this non-traditional physics are

enumerated.

References

1.

microdevices the Freeman scholar lecture, J.

Fluids Eng. 121 (1999) 533.

2. C. Xie, Characteristics of micronozzle gas flows,

Physics of Fluids, vol. 19, no. 3, 2007.

3. K. Chen,M.Winter, and R. F. Huang, Supersonic

flow in miniature nozzles of the planar

configuration, Journal of Micromechanics and

Microengineering, vol. 15, no. 9, pp. 17361744,

2005.

4.

H. Nagai, R. Naraoka, K. Sawada, and K. Asai,

Pressure-sensitive paint measurement of pressure

distribution in a supersonic micronozzle, AIAA

Journal, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 215222, 2008.

5. P. Hao, Y. Ding, Z. Yao, F. He, and K. Zhu, Size

effect on gas flow in micronozzles, Journal of

Micromechanics and Microengineering, vol. 15, no.

11, pp. 20692073, 2005.

6. M. Liu, X. Zhang, G. Zhang, and Y. Chen, Study

on micronozzle flow and propulsion performance

using DSMC and continuum methods, Acta

Mechanica Sinica, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 409416,

2006.

7. G. N. Markelov, M. S. Ivanov, A. D. Ketsdever, and

D. C. Wadsworth, Numerical study of cold gas

micronozzle flows, in 33th Aerospace Science

Meeting and Exhibit, AIAA Paper 99-0166, 1999.

8. R. Raju, B. P. Pandey, and S. Roy, Finite element

model of fluid flow inside a microthruster, in

NanoTech 2002 Conference, AIAA Paper 20025733, 2002.

9. E. Titov, A. Gallagher-Rogers, and D. A. Levin,

Examination of a collisionlimiter Direct

Simulation

Monte

Carlo

method

for

micropropulsion

applications,

Journal

of

Propulsion and Power, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 311321,

2008.

10. A. A. Alexenko, D. A. Levin, S. F. Gimelschein,

and R. J. Collins, Numerical modeling of

axisymmetric and three-dimensional flows in

MEMS nozzle, AIAA Journal, vol. 40, no. 5, pp.

897904, 2002.

11. M. Liu, X. Zhang, G. Zhang, and Y. Chen, Study

on micronozzle flow and propulsion performance

using DSMC and continuum methods, Acta

Mechanica Sinica, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 409416,

2006.

12. OpenFOAM, the Open Source CFD Toolbox,

www.openfoam.com

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