Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Darren L. Hitt

Second Advisor

William F. Louisos


Supersonic micronozzles operate in the unique viscosupersonic flow regime, characterized by large Mach numbers (M>1) and low Reynolds numbers (Re<1000). Past research has primarily focused on the design and analysis of converging-diverging de Laval nozzles; however, plug (i.e. centerbody) designs also have some promising characteristics that might make them amenable to microscale operation. In this study, the effects of plug geometry on plug micronozzle performance are examined for the Reynolds number range Re = 80-640 using 2D Navier-Stokes-based simulations. Nozzle plugs are shortened to reduce viscous losses via three techniques: one - truncation, two - the use of parabolic contours, and three - a geometric process involving scaling. Shortened nozzle are derived from a full length geometry designed for optimal isentropic performance. Expansion ratio (ε = 3.19 and 6.22) and shortened plug length (%L = 10-100%) are varied for the full Reynolds number range. The performance of plug nozzles is then compared to that of linear-walled nozzles for equal pressure ratios, Reynolds numbers, and expansion ratios. Linear-walled nozzle half-angle is optimized to to ensure plug nozzles are compared against the best-case linear-walled design.

Results indicate that the full length plug nozzle delivers poor performance on the microscale, incurring excessive viscous losses. Plug performance is increased by shortening the nozzle plug, with the scaling technique providing the best performance. The benefit derived from reducing plug length depends upon the Reynolds number, with a 1-2% increase for high Reynolds numbers an up to 14% increase at the lowest Reynolds number examined. In comparison to Linear-walled nozzle, plug nozzles deliver superior performance when under-expanded, however, this trend reverses at low pressure ratios when the nozzles become over-expanded.



Number of Pages

85 p.