Skip to main content


Combustion and Gas Dynamics

Processes that involve combustion and high-speed, compressible flow (gas dynamics) are important in numerous important aeropropulsion and energy conversion applications. Current combustion research in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics is focused on the study of the vaporization and combustion of liquid oxygen droplets in a gaseous hydrogen environment, a problem relevant to combustion processes in rockets using cryogenic liquate propellants. This research is being conducted both experimentally in microgravity using a drop tower and by numerical modeling.

Key Research: Liquid Oxygen Droplet Combustion

The combustion of liquid oxygen droplets in a hydrogen environment is being studied in a collaboration between the UW, the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen in Germany, and the IPHT Leibnitz-Institute for Photonic Technologies in Jena, Germany. This combustion problem is relevant to rocket combustion chambers utilizing cryogenic hydrogen/oxygen propellants. Combustion tests are conducted both in the laboratory and in microgravity using the ZARM Drop Tower. Optical diagnostics are developed in collaboration with the IPHT. The UW is contributing to this research by analytical and numerical modeling of the droplet evaporation and combustion processes. The research is primarily funded by the German Aerospace Center (DLR); the UW portion is supported by the US Fulbright Program.