Investigations into deep cracks in rocket motor propellant models

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Virginia Tech


Star grain configuration design has been widely used in solid rocket applications for several decades. Although a large number of surface cracks are detected in the rocket motor propellants, the mechanism of these cracks is sull not well known due to the complex geometry of the grain.

A stress-freezing photoelastic investigation has been performed to study the deep cracks which emanate from the fingertips of the star-shaped cutout cylinders. Using three-dimensional photoelasticity and proper algorithms in fracture mechanics, the stress intensity factors (SIF's) and the stress singularity orders along the crack front have been calculated. A surface effect on the dominant singularity order is observed and some analytical results are employed as a comparison.

Meanwhile, three-dimensional finite element solution to the circular cylinder is used to find the “equivalent” inner radius for the internal star cylinder and the variation of SIF's along the crack border shows a very similar trend to the experimental results once the "equivalent" radius is adopted.