Rate Effects in Hypersonic Flows

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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Hypersonic flows are energetic and result in regions of high temperature, causing internal energy excitation, chemical reactions, ionization, and gas-surface interactions. At typical flight conditions, the rates of these processes are often similar to the rate of fluid motion. Thus, the gas state is out of local thermodynamic equilibrium and must be described by conservation equations for the internal energy and chemical state. Examples illustrate how competition between rates in hypersonic flows can affect aerodynamic performance, convective heating, boundary layer transition, and ablation. The conservation equations are outlined, and the most widely used models for internal energy relaxation, reaction rates, and transport properties are reviewed. Gas-surface boundary conditions are described, including finite-rate catalysis and slip effects. Recent progress in the use of first-principles calculations to understand and quantify critical gas-phase reactions is discussed. An advanced finite-rate carbon ablation model is introduced and is used to illustrate the role of rate processes at hypersonic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-402
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 5 2019


  • aerothermodynamics
  • finite-rate processes
  • high-temperature gas dynamics
  • hypersonic aerodynamics
  • nonequilibrium flows

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