Propelling nozzle


Propelling nozzle

A propelling nozzle is a component of a jet engine that is found at the tail of the engine that operates to form an exhaust jet and to maximise the use of the exhaust gas's energy throughout the engine so that the maximum overall thrust is achieved.

On non-afterburning engines the nozzle is a fixed size because the differing atmospheric pressure over the operating altitudes makes little difference to the engine aerodynamics and variable nozzle use is expensive. However the great range of mass flow rates an afterburning engine generates requires the use of variable nozzle diameters and shapes. Depending on the amount of afterburning, the variable nozzle may be simple or complex.

Engines capable of supersonic flight have convergent-divergent duct features that generate supersonic flow.

Engines that are required to generate thrust quickly, from idle, use a variable area propelling nozzle in its open configuration to keep thrust to a minimum while maintaining high engine rpm. When thrust is needed, initiating a go-around for example, it is simple and quick to close the nozzle to the high-thrust position.

Principles of operation

The primary objective of a nozzle is to expand the exhaust stream to atmospheric pressure, and form it into a high speed jet to propel the vehicle. For airbreathing engines, if the fully expanded jet has a higher speed than the aircraft's airspeed, then there is a net rearward momentum gain to the air and there will be a forward thrust on the airframe.

Convergent nozzles

Simple convergent nozzles are used on many jet engines. If the nozzle pressure ratio is above the critical value (about 1.8:1) a convergent nozzle will choke, resulting in some of the expansion to atmospheric pressure taking place downstream of the throat (i.e. smallest flow area), in the jet wake. Although much of the gross thrust produced will still be from the jet momentum, additional (pressure) thrust will come from the imbalance between the throat static pressure and atmospheric pressure.

Afterburners

Many military combat engines incorporate an afterburner (or reheat) in the engine exhaust system. When the system is lit, the nozzle throat area must be increased, to accommodate the extra exhaust volume flow, so that the turbomachinery is unaware that the afterburner is lit. A variable throat area is achieved by moving a series of overlapping petals, which approximate the circular nozzle cross-section.

Convergent-divergent nozzles

At high nozzle pressure ratios, the exit pressure is often above ambient and much of the expansion will take place downstream of a convergent nozzle, which is inefficient. Consequently, some jet engines (notably rockets) incorporate a convergent-divergent nozzle, to allow most of the expansion to take place against the inside of a nozzle to maximise thrust. However, unlike the fixed con-di nozzle used on a conventional rocket motor, when such a device is used on a turbojet engine it has to be a complex variable geometry device, to cope with the wide variation in nozzle pressure ratio encountered in flight and engine throttling. This further increases the weight and cost of such an installation.

Types of nozzles

Ejector nozzles

The simpler of the two is the ejector nozzle, which creates an effective nozzle through a secondary airflow and spring-loaded petals. At subsonic speeds, the airflow constricts the exhaust to a convergent shape. As the aircraft speeds up, the two nozzles dilate, which allows the exhaust to form a convergent-divergent shape, speeding the exhaust gasses past Mach 1. More complex engines can actually use a tertiary airflow to reduce exit area at very low speeds. Advantages of the ejector nozzle are relative simplicity and reliability. Disadvantages are average performance (compared to the other nozzle type) and relatively high drag due to the secondary airflow. Notable aircraft to have utilized this type of nozzle include the SR-71, Concorde, F-111, and Saab Viggen

Iris nozzles

For higher performance, it is necessary to use an iris nozzle. This type uses overlapping, hydraulically adjustable "petals". Although more complex than the ejector nozzle, it has significantly higher performance and smoother airflow. As such, it is employed primarily on high-performance fighters such as the F-14, F-15, F-16, though is also used in high-speed bombers such as the B-1B. Some modern iris nozzles additionally have the ability to change the angle of the thrust (see thrust vectoring).

Rocket nozzles

Rocket motors also employ convergent-divergent nozzles, but these are usually of fixed geometry, to minimize weight. Because of the much higher nozzle pressure ratios experienced, rocket motor con-di nozzles have a much greater area ratio (exit/throat) than those fitted to jet engines. The Convair F-106 Delta Dart has used such a nozzle design, as part of its overall design specification as a aerospace interceptor for high-altitude bomber interception, where conventional nozzle design would prove ineffective.

Low ratio nozzles

At the other extreme, some high bypass ratio civil turbofans use an extremely low area ratio (less than 1.01 area ratio), convergent-divergent, nozzle on the bypass (or mixed exhaust) stream, to control the fan working line. The nozzle acts as if it has variable geometry. At low flight speeds the nozzle is unchoked (less than a Mach number of unity), so the exhaust gas speeds up as it approaches the throat and then slows down slightly as it reaches the divergent section. Consequently, the nozzle exit area controls the fan match and, being larger than the throat, pulls the fan working line slightly away from surge. At higher flight speeds, the ram rise in the intake increases nozzle pressure ratio to the point where the throat becomes choked (M=1.0). Under these circumstances, the throat area dictates the fan match and being smaller than the exit pushes the fan working line slightly towards surge. This is not a problem, since fan surge margin is much better at high flight speeds.

ee also

*De Laval nozzle
*Rocket engine nozzles

References


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