Development and modeling of a dual-frequency microwave burn rate measurement system for solid rocket propellant

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Virginia Tech


A dual-frequency microwave bum rate measurement system for solid rocket motors has been developed and is described. The system operates in the X-band (8.2-12.4 Ghz) and uses two independent frequencies operating simultaneously to measure the instantaneous bum rate in a solid rocket motor. Modeling of the two frequency system was performed to determine its effectiveness in limiting errors caused by secondary reflections and errors in the estimates of certain material properties, particularly the microwave wavelength in the propellant. Computer simulations based upon the modeling were performed and are presented. Limited laboratory testing of the system was also conducted to determine its ability perform as modeled.

Simulations showed that the frequency ratio and the initial motor geometry (propellant thickness and combustion chamber diameter) determined the effectiveness of the system in reducing secondary reflections. Results presented show that higher frequency ratios provided better error reduction. Overall, the simulations showed that a dual frequency system can provide up to a 75% reduction in burn rate error over that returned by a single frequency system. The hardware and software for dual frequency measurements was developed and tested, however, further instrumentation work is required to increase the rate at which data is acquired using the methods presented here. The system presents some advantages over the single frequency method but further work needs to be done to realize its full potential.