Date of Award

Fall 2011

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Sathya Gangadharan

First Committee Member

Dr. Reda Mankbadi

Second Committee Member

Mr. Brandon Marsell


Motion of propellant in the liquid propellant tanks due to inertial forces transferred from actions like stage separation and trajectory correction of the launch vehicle is known as propellant slosh. If unchecked, propellant slosh can reach resonance and lead to complete loss of the spacecraft stability, it can change the trajectory of the vehicle or increase consumption of propellant from the calculated requirements, thereby causing starvation of the latter stages of the vehicle. Predicting the magnitude of such slosh events is not trivial. Several passive mechanisms with limited operating range are currently used to mitigate the effects of slosh. An active damping mechanism concept developed here can operate over a large range of slosh frequencies and is much more effective than passive damping devices. Spherical and cylindrical tanks modeled using the ANSYS CFX software package considers the free surface of liquid propellant exposed to atmospheric pressure. Hydrazine is a common liquid propellant and since it is toxic, it cannot be used in experiment. But properties of hydrazine are similar to the properties of water; therefore water is substituted as propellant for experimental study. For close comparison of the data, water is substituted as propellant in CFD simulation. The research is done in three phases. The first phase includes modeling free surface slosh using CFD and validation of the model by comparison to previous experimental results. The second phase includes developing an active damping mechanism and simulating the behavior using a CFD model. The third phase includes experimental development of damping mechanism and comparing the CFD simulation to the experimental results. This research provides an excellent tool for low cost analysis of damping mechanisms for propellant slosh as well as proves that the concept of an active damping mechanism developed here, functions as expected.