Faculty Advisor

James Hermanson

Faculty Advisor

David Olinger

Faculty Advisor

John Blandino

Faculty Advisor

Mark Richman


The effects of liquid superheat on the disruption of liquid droplets accelerated in a supersonic flow were examined experimentally in a drawdown supersonic wind tunnel. Monodisperse 60 ìm diameter droplets of two test fluids (methanol and ethanol) were generated upstream of the entrance to the tunnel and accelerated with the supersonic flow such that their maximum velocities relative to the air flow were transonic. Droplets were imaged by shadowgraphy and by multiple-exposure direct photography using planar laser sheet illumination. In addition to providing information on droplet lifetime, the latter technique allows measurement of the droplet downstream distance versus time, from which the velocity and acceleration during disruption can be inferred. All droplets were unheated upon injection. Depending on the vapor pressure of the liquid, the droplets achieved varying levels of liquid superheat as they experienced low static pressure in the supersonic flow. Histograms of the droplet population downstream of the supersonic nozzle throat indicate that the lifetime of droplets in supersonic flow decreases with an increasing amount of droplet superheat. The shorter lifetime occurs even as the droplet Weber number (based on initial droplet size) decreases initially due to the lower relative velocity of the methanol droplets to that of ethanol droplets. This is due to a higher acceleration than ethanol droplets of comparable initial size. This is consistent with the more rapid disruption and the faster decrease in mass for the methanol droplets. The droplets, depending on the level of superheating, in some cases underwent disruption modes different than those expected for the corresponding values of Weber number.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





droplet, Supersonic nozzles, Airplanes, Scramjet engines