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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 253
  • August 1993, pp. 245-265

The impact of a shock wave on porous compressible foams


A phenomenological study of the processes occurring when a shock wave interacts with porous polyester and polyether foams has been undertaken. Plane shock waves generated in a shock tube were reflected off a slab of foam mounted against the back wall of the tube. Tests were conducted with an initial shock wave Mach number of 1.4 and a 70 mm thick slab of foam. The reduction in reflected shock wave strength and substantial increase in the back wall pressure over that for rigid wall reflection, found by other workers, were confirmed.

Piezoelectric pressure transducers were used to record the pressure before, alongside and behind the foam specimen. Schlieren photographs of the flow were made and showed some features not previously reported. In particular it is shown that there is a flow of gas across the face of the foam at some point of the process. Previous investigations of this interaction process have assumed that the face of the foam is a contact surface.

Short duration photographs of the distortion of the foam were taken, enabling the wave propagation in the foam material itself to be studied. It is established that the front of this compaction wave in the foam material moves at considerably lower velocity (∼ 90 m/s) than the gas wave as detected by the pressure transducers (∼ 200 m/s). This result contrasts with the assumption made in previous work that the two-phase medium behaves essentially as a homogeneous substance.

A simple physical model based on a zone of compacted material in the foam acting as a high-resistance flow barrier, is proposed to explain the observed phenomena.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
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