Development and Demonstration of a Diode Laser Sensor for a Scramjet Combustor

Hypersonic vehicles, based on scramjet engines, have the potential to deliver inexpensive access to space when compared with rocket propulsion. The technology, however, is in its infancy and there is still much to be learned from fundamental studies.

Flows that represent the conditions inside a scramjet engine can be generated in ground tests using a free-piston shock tunnel and a combustor model. These facilities provide a convenient location for fundamental studies and principles learned during ground tests can be applied to the design of a full-scale vehicle.

A wide range of diagnostics have been used for studying scramjet flows, including surface measurements and optical visualisation techniques. The aim of this work is to test the effectiveness of tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) as a scramjet diagnostic.

TDLAS utilises the spectrally narrow emission from a diode laser to probe individual absorption lines of a target species. By varying the diode laser injection current, the laser emission wavelength can be scanned to rapidly obtain a profile of the spectral line. TDLAS has been used previously for gas-dynamic sensing applications and, in the configuration used in this work, is sensitive to temperature and water vapour concentration.
Author: Griffiths, Alan David
Source: The Australian National University

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