University of Virginia Supersonic Combustion Facility
The University of Virginia Supersonic Combustion Facility is an electrically-heated supersonic wind tunnel that is capable of simulating a hypersonic vehicle flying at five times the speed of sound. The facility is used in research that is aiding the development of scramjet engines that one day could propel aircraft at speeds of up to 15 times the speed of sound. These engines could also be used to make space access cheaper and safer.
The facility has a continuous flow capability that allows unlimited duration testing. During combustion testing, flow speeds of 2,200 mph are generated with flow temperatures approaching 4000° F. Including warm up and warm down periods, tests are usually conducted over a 5 to 6 hour period with steady state test conditions typically held for 1 to 2 hours. Since the facility is electrically heated, it does not have a freestream that is vitiated with combustion heater products. However, the major combustion species of water and carbon dioxide can be added to the freestream. Therefore, the clean air of flight or a vitiated combustion heater test medium can be simulated. Optical access to the combustor test section permits highly accurate, non-intrusive flow measurements in the high-speed combusting flows. Laser-based techniques applied to these complex reacting flows provide information to enable an understanding of the underlying physics of high-speed combustion and for the development of databases for the validation of advanced numerical computer models. In house diagnostics include Stereoscopic Particle Image Velocimetry (10 – 1000 Hz), Tunable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy (TDLAS) tomography and high speed (MHz) Schlieren and shadowgraph flow visualization.