Investigation and modeling of coupled thermochemical and thermomechanical erosion in thermally degrading systems
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The coupled effects of thermochemical and thermomechanical erosion are investigated. A quasi-steady ablation model with finite rate surface chemistry is developed and applied to a solid carbon combustion scenario to investigate the system’s behavior in situations in which surface reactions are not in equilibrium. It is found that in this regime, the system can be described effectively in terms of the B number and the Damkohler number, and a useful algebraic relationship between these parameters is determined for nonequilibrium behavior. The thermochemical ablation model is then expanded by considering mechanical removal of thermochemically weakened material from the ablating surface. A model is developed for a randomly oriented carbon fiber preform material, like that used in the production of phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA), and this model is incorporated into the previously developed ablation code. It is found that for PICA in realistic reentry scenarios, the removal of individual fibers from the ablating surface by mechanical erosion is not an important mass loss mechanism, although hypothetical situations exist where this mechanism for mechanical removal of material is non-negligible. The thermo-chemo-mechanical erosion mechanism is then extended to address brand generation in wildland fire scenarios. A model is developed to predict the size and number distribution of embers generated from a tree with fractal geometry. This model is coupled to a simple plume and propagation model similar to those existing in the literature, and a case study is performed for a realistic wildfire scenario. The presence of an optimal branch diameter for brand propagation is identified, and areas for future work in thermo-chemo-mechanical degradation are discussed.