Convective Heat Flux Sensor Validation, Qualification and Integration in Test Articles

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study is to quantify the effects of heat flux sensor design and interaction with both test article material choice and geometry on heat flux measurements. It is the public domain component of a larger study documenting issues inherent in heat flux measurement. Direct and indirect heat flux measurement techniques were tested in three thermally diverse model materials at the same Mach 6 test condition, with a total pressure of 1200 psi and total temperature of 1188° R, and compared to the steady analytic Fay-Riddell solution for the stagnation heat flux on a hemisphere. A 1/8 in. fast response Schmidt-Boelter gage and a 1/16 in. Coaxial thermocouple mounted in ¾ in. diameter stainless steel, MACOR, and Graphite hemispheres were chosen as the test articles for this study. An inverse heat flux calculation was performed using the coaxial thermocouple temperature data for comparison with the Schmidt-Boelter gage. Before wind tunnel testing, the model/sensor combinations were tested in a radiative heat flux calibration rig at known static and dynamic heat fluxes from 1 to 20 BTU/ft2/s. During wind tunnel testing, the chosen conditions yielded stagnation point convective heat flux of 15-60 BTU/ft2/s, depending on the stagnation point wall temperature of the model. A computational fluid dynamic study with conjugate heat transfer was also undertaken to further study the complex mechanisms at work. The overall study yielded complex results that prove classic methodology for inverse heat flux calculation and direct heat flux measurement require more knowledge of the thermal environment than a simple match of material properties. Internal and external model geometry, spatial and temporal variations of the heat flux, and the level of thermal contact between the sensor and the test article can all result in a calculated or measured heat flux that is not correct even with a thermally matched sensor. The results of this study supported the conclusions of many previous studies but also examined the complex physics involved across heat flux measurement techniques using new tools, and some general guidance for heat flux sensor design and use, and suggestions for further research are provided.



Heat Flux, Thermal Instrumentation, Heat--Transmission, Schmidt-Boelter, Inverse Heat Flux