The Challenger disaster and purposeful experiments with liquid hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (Ox) tank breaches demonstrated that cryogenic H2/Ox fluids always self-ignite in the process of their sudden mixing. Here, we propose a cavitation-induced self-ignition mechanism that may be realized under these conditions. In one possible scenario, self-ignition is caused by the strong shock waves generated by the collapse of pure Ox vapor bubble near the surface of the Ox liquid that may initiate detonation of the gaseous H2/Ox mixture next to the gas-liquid interface. This effect is further enhanced by H2/Ox combustion inside the collapsing bubble in the presence of admixed H2 gas.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)