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The University of Southampton

SESA3029 Aerothermodynamics

Module Overview

Aerothemodynamics is essential to the design of high speed flight vehicles (in this context high speed refers to anything above about Mach 0.3). The subject integrates thermodynamics and fluid mechanics concepts to cover the fundamentals of compressible flow, along with applications to external and internal aerodynamics.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Knowledge and understanding of inviscid compressible high-speed flows (SM1b, SM1m, SM7M)
  • Understanding of how the full governing equations can be simplified for sub- and supersonic flow regimes and awareness of established/emerging numerical technique to solve them (SM1b, SM1m, SM4m, SM7M, SM8M, EA5m)
  • Knowledge and understanding of the basic principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer and how this integrates into high speed aerodynamics (SM3b, SM3m, EA1b, EA1m)
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply basic finite difference techniques to solve partial differential equations (EA3b)
  • Communicate work in written reports (G1)
  • Study and learn independently, solving engineering problems (EA3b)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the inverse-design MoC technique for nozzle design (EA1b, EA1m, EA2, EA3b, EA3m, EA6M, D4)
  • Apply simple correlations for estimation of convective heat transfer (EA1b, EA1m, EA2)
  • Apply shock/expansion theory to external and internal aerodynamic application (EA1b, EA1m, EA2, EA3b, EA5m)
  • Apply Ackerets’ theory to supersonic flow, including design optimisation (EA1b, EA1m, EA2, EA5m)
  • Apply Prandtl-Glauert correction for subsonic flows (EA2, EA3b)


Introduction • Review of 1D gasdynamics and basic concept from thermodynamics Two-dimensional gas dynamics • Oblique shock waves; shock reflections (regular and Mach); shock/shock interactions; Prandtl-Meyer expansion waves; shock/expansion method for airfoils; under/over-expanded flow; supersonic wind tunnel. Conservation laws and simplifications • Conservation of mass, momentum and energy leading to the compressible Navier-Stokes equations, Crocco equation. Rotational and potential flows. Euler and potential flow equations. Method of characteristics • Derivation of method of charactersitsics (MoC). 2-D supersonic nozzle design using MoC. External aerodynamics • Flow patterns in transonic and supersonic airfoil flow; critical Mach number; thin airfoils in compressible flow; velocity potential and pressure coefficient; Prandtl-Glauert transformation; Ackeret theory for supersonic airfoil flow; minimum wave drag; effect of sweepback; sub- and supersonic leading edges. Heat transfer • Elements of conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer. Laminar and turbulent boundary layers. Finite difference solution of heat equation. Heat exchangers. Application to heat transfer on high speed vehicles. Revision Coursework (e.g. MoC exercise) and examples sheets

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning methods • Lectures. • Tutorials/examples classes. • Supporting material on Blackboard.

Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice36
Completion of assessment task18
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Can be repeated externally (100% exam) or internally.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 30%
Final Assessment  70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: SESA2022 OR FEEG2003

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