This is the third of four chapters on solid propellant motors. We discuss the combustion of solid propellants, the physical and chemical processes of burning, the ignition or startup process, the extinction of burning, and combustion instability.
The combustion process in rocket propulsion systems is very efficient, when compared to other power plants, because the combustion temperatures are very high; this accelerates the rate of chemical reaction, helping to achieve nearly complete combustion. As was mentioned in Chapter 2, the energy released in the combustion is between 95 and 99.5% of the possible maximum. This is difficult to improve. There has been much interesting research on rocket combustion and we have now a better understanding of the phenomena and of the behavior of burning propellants. This combustion area is still the domain of specialists. The rocket motor designers have been concerned not so much with the burning process as with controlling the combustion (start, stop, heat effects) and with preventing the occurrence of combustion instability.
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