Sean's Research

Our Hypersonic Facility


Our free-piston reflected shock tunnel


This is our flagship high-speed flow facility.  It has a test time of between 500 and 1500 microseconds, depending on the total enthalpy of the flow being generated.  We are able to operate the facilities at total enthalpies of between 3 and 11 MJ/kg.  It is one of many free-piston shock tunnels in the world, and what makes it unique is that it has many different diagnostics installed on it, making it very well characterised, compared with similar hypersonic impulse facilities.  Because these facilities can only operate a few times per day, having a number of diagnostic techniques that can be deployed on it simultaneously make the facility an excellent match for fundamental, quantitative studies of hypersonic flow.

This facility has been operating at UNSW Canberra since 2002, and can be used to investigate atmospheric entry and high-speed ignition problems.  In particular, it has been the facility that we have used to investigate fundamental behaviours of hypersonic wake and separated flows.

The facility has a Mach 10 contoured nozzle, Mach 6, 8 and 10 conical nozzles, and a new direct-connect nozzle specifically designed for fundamental studies of supersonic ignition.  It also has recently had a Mach 3.8 contoured nozzle fitted to it.  We are continuously improving the facility, and understanding it better using laser diagnostics.