Numerical Study of an Isothermal Slush Flow for Aerospace Propulsion Applications

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Abstract

Slushes are two-phase solid-liquid single-species cryogenic fluids that exhibit an increased density and a greater heat capacity with respect to the corresponding normal boiling point liquids. These promising features are of large interest for applications that exploit slush as a thermal fluid, like super magnets refrigeration, cryogenic cooling of bio-materials or air conditioning, and for aerospace systems that use slush fluids as fuel or oxidizer. Several programs in the frame of the research on Slush Hydrogen (SLH2) as a new-generation fuel for aerospace propulsion have been started in the past. This work was carried out in the framework of a VKI research activity promoted by the Predict ESA Technology Research Programme, to investigate experimentally and numerically the behavior of slush flows in a representative upper stage feeding line. In this paper, we present a simulation based on a granular two-fluid model on an isothermal solid liquid mixture (slurry) and a Nitrogen slush (SLN2) fluid flowing in a horizontal pipe. A finite-volumes discretization using the software library OpenFOAM was benchmarked against experimental and numerical literature data, to assess the accuracy of the code in predicting pressure drops along the pipe axis and solid particle distribution across the pipe diameter. Moreover, the effects of concentration and inlet velocity are investigated. We show that the numerical model fairly reproduces the literature data in terms of important aspects as the solid volume fraction distribution and the pressure drops, especially for high flow rates.

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