The flow of liquid fuel (hydrogen) and the oxidizing agent in a rocket engine are controlled by valves that are called main feed valves. The most often used type of feed valve is the so-called in-line poppet valve. The pressure drop across the feed valve must be kept as low as possible to avoid cavitation, which may cause interruption of the proper amount of fuel flow. In addition, a controllable motion of the valve poppet during opening/closing of the valve is required to prevent the possibility of a water hammer.

This paper provides an experimental fluid dynamic investigation of a commercial in-line poppet valve. Pressure losses across the valve and drag forces experienced by the valve poppet were measured using approximately 1/2 scale model. The water was used as the flowing medium.

To find a valve design with minimum pressure loss, new valve models were designed and tested. The results of this research can be summarized as follows.

An optimal choice of valve housing contours and valve poppet shapes could decrease the pressure loss coefficient by more than 50%. (typically from ξ = 0.82 to ξ = 0.37). The pressure loss coefficient is strongly dependent on the Reynolds number up to Reynolds numbers of approximately less than 2.5 × 105. The flow force experienced by the valve poppet increases exponentially during closing of the valve.

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