Modeling of the armature-rail interface in an electromagnetic launcher with lubricant injection

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Wang, Lei
Salant, Richard F.
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In electromagnetic launcher (EML) systems, the behavior of the materials and forces at the armature-rail interface involves fluid mechanics, electromagnetics, thermal effects, contact mechanics and deformation mechanics. These factors must interact successfully in order for a launch to be successful. A lubricant film either deposited on the rails prior to launch or injected from the armature during launch has been suggested as a means of improving the electrical conductivity of the rail-armature interface and of avoiding the occurrence of arcing. The fluid pressure generated by such film, together with the magnetic force, the contact force and the uneven temperature field in the armature, deforms the armature and changes the interface gap shape. An analytical model to study the interfacial behavior under these influences is necessary in order to predict the performance of a potential EML design and to provide optimization information. Studies of this interfacial behavior have been done by a number of researchers. However, many critical factors were not included, such as surface roughness, cavitation, injection, magnetic lateral force, interface deformation and thermal effects. The three models presented in this study investigate the influence of those factors on the EML interface problem. The magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) model establishes a description of the lubrication process under electromagnetic stress but neglects interface deformation. The magneto-elastohydrodynamic (MEHD) model extends the MHD model by considering the lateral magnetic force, interface contact force and elastic deformation. Finally, the magneto-elastothermohydrodynamic (METHD) model adds the thermal effects to the deformation analysis. A coupled analysis of the interface behavior with the METHD model is developed and the history of a typical launch is studied. Detailed injection, lubrication and launch processes are revealed and the performance is predicted. A failed launch is simulated and the cause of failure is identified to be debris left on the rails. Several operation and design parameters, such as rail surface profile, electric current pattern, reservoir load, lubrication length, pocket size and geometry, injection conduit diameter, are analyzed and a recommended injection design procedure is developed. A scaling study is performed by doubling the dimensions to predict the scaling effects. In the end, the base case configuration and scaled configuration are optimized using the technique developed in this study.
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