Convergent Exhaust Nozzle
As the exhaust gases exit the rear of the engine, they flow into the exhaust nozzle. [Figure 3-46] The very first part of the exhaust nozzle and the exhaust plug form a divergent duct to reduce turbulence in the airflow, then the exhaust gases flow into the convergent component of the exhaust nozzle where the flow is restricted by a smaller outlet opening. Since this forms a convergent duct, the gas velocity is increased providing increased thrust.
The restriction of the opening of the outlet of the exhaust nozzle is limited by two factors. If the nozzle opening is too big, thrust is being wasted. If it is too little, the flow is choked in the other components of the engine. In other words, the exhaust nozzle acts as an orifice, the size of which determines the density and velocity of the gases as they emerge from the engine. This is critical to thrust performance. Adjusting the area of the exhaust nozzle changes both the engine performance and the exhaust gas temperature. When the velocity of the exhaust gases at the nozzle opening becomes Mach 1, the flow passes only at this speed—it does not increase or decrease. Sufficient flow to maintain Mach 1 at the nozzle opening and have extra flow (flow that is being restricted by the opening) creates what is called a choked nozzle. The extra flow builds up pressure in the nozzle, which is sometimes called pressure thrust. A differential in pressure exists between the inside of the nozzle and the ambient air. By multiplying this difference in pressure times the area of the nozzle opening, pressure thrust can be calculated. Many engines cannot develop pressure thrust because most of the energy is used to drive turbines that turn propellers, large fans, or helicopter rotors.
Convergent-Divergent Exhaust Nozzle
Whenever the engine pressure ratio is high enough to produce exhaust gas velocities which might exceed Mach 1 at the engine exhaust nozzle, more thrust can be gained by using a convergent-divergent type of nozzle. [Figure 3-47] The advantage of a convergent-divergent nozzle is greatest at high Mach numbers because of the resulting higher pressure ratio across the engine exhaust nozzle.
To ensure that a constant weight or volume of a gas flows past any given point after sonic velocity is reached, the rear part of a supersonic exhaust duct is enlarged to accommodate the additional weight or volume of a gas that flows at supersonic rates. If this is not done, the nozzle does not operate efficiently. This is the divergent section of the exhaust duct.
When a divergent duct is used in combination with a conventional exhaust duct, it is called a convergent-divergent exhaust duct. In the convergent-divergent, or C-D nozzle, the convergent section is designed to handle the gases while they remain subsonic, and to deliver the gases to the throat of the nozzle just as they attain sonic velocity. The divergent section handles the gases, further increasing their velocity, after they emerge from the throat and become supersonic. As the gas flows from the throat of the nozzle, it becomes supersonic (Mach 1 and above) and then passes into the divergent section of the nozzle. Since it is supersonic, it continues to increase in velocity. This type of nozzle is generally used on very high speed aerospace vehicles.