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- Energy dissipation and resonant coupling from sloshing fuel in spacecraft fuel tanks is a problem that occurs in the design of many spacecraft. In the case of a spin stabilized spacecraft, this energy dissipation can cause a growth in the spacecrafts' nutation (wobble) that may lead to disastrous consequences for the mission. Even in non-spinning spacecraft, coupling between the spacecraft or upper stage flight control system and an unanticipated slosh resonance can result in catastrophe. By using a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solver such as Fluent, a model for this fuel slosh can be created. The accuracy of the model must be tested by comparing its results to an experimental test case. Such a model will allow for the variation of many different parameters such as fluid viscosity and gravitational field, yielding a deeper understanding of spacecraft slosh dynamics. In order to gain a better understanding of the dynamics behind sloshing fluids, the Launch Services Program (LSP) at the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is interested in finding ways to better model this behavior. Thanks to past research, a state-of-the-art fuel slosh research facility was designed and fabricated at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). This test facility has produced interesting results and a fairly reliable parameter estimation process to predict the necessary values that accurately characterize a mechanical pendulum analog model. The current study at ERAU uses a different approach to model the free surface sloshing of liquid in a spherical tank using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) methods. Using a software package called Fluent, a model was created to simulate the sloshing motion of the propellant. This finite volume program uses a technique called the Volume of Fluid (VOF) method to model the interaction between two fluids . For the case of free surface slosh, the two fluids are the propellant and air. As the fuel sloshes around in the tank, it naturally displaces the air. Using the conservation of mass, momentum, and energy equations, as well as the VOF equations, one can predict the behavior of the sloshing fluid and calculate the forces, pressure gradients, and velocity field for the entire liquid as a function of time.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20130012592.
47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting; 5-8 Jan. 2009; Orlando, FL; United States.
- Copyright, Distribution as joint owner in the copyright.
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