Fundamentals of combustion for propulsion

By Prof. S Varunkumar, Prof. H S Mukunda   |   IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore
Learners enrolled: 84
About the course:
The gulf between science of combustion and its practice is strikingly visible during interactions between academics and practitioners. In spite of this, significant progress has happened over the last few decades in development of propulsion systems for space and defense applications in India. But in dealing with ‘combustion instability’, practitioners find the existing methods of practice and more importantly the way of thinking highly inadequate. This course, in an interactive way, will attempt to bridge this gap by introducing practitioners and research scholars in the field of combustion and propulsion to essential existing ideas and a few new ones. It is hoped that this will enable the participants to think of novel strategies to deal with development of propulsion systems prone to ‘instability’. The instructors also hope to learn of issues of fundamental nature that are required to address developments in practice.

INTENDED AUDIENCE : (1) Research students working in the area of combustion and propulsion
(2) Practicing engineers in the area of development of combustion and propulsion systems for space and defense applications

PREREQUISITES : UG/PG degree in mechanical/aerospace engineering

Course Status : Upcoming
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 8 weeks
Start Date : 23 Jan 2023
End Date : 17 Mar 2023
Exam Date : 26 Mar 2023 IST
Enrollment Ends : 30 Jan 2023
Category :
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Propulsion
Credit Points : 2
Level : Postgraduate

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1 : Lecture 1 – Equilibrium: physical, thermodynamic and chemical
Lecture 2 – Equilibrium controlled and rate controlled processes in gaseous, liquid and solid fuels
Lecture 3 – Calculation of equilibrium states
Week 2 : Lecture 4 – Laminar premixed and diffusion flames: principal features and differences
Lecture 5 – Quenching, flammability and other limit phenomena
Lecture 6 – Discussion of burning behavior of gaseous, liquid and solid fuels
Week 3 : Lecture 7 – Basics of composite solid propellant deflagration
Lecture 8 – Why model deflagration of composite propellants?
Lecture 9 – Statistical representation of composite propellants in HeQu1D – geometry and thermochemistry
Week 4 : Lecture 10 – Idea of lateral diffusion
Lecture 11 – Overview of the HeQu1D software and demonstration
Lecture 12 – Effect of aluminum
Week 5 : Lecture 13 – Erosive burning
Lecture 14 – Instability in solid rockets – 1
Lecture 15 – Instability in solid rockets – 2
Week 6 : Lecture 16 – Principal ideas of combustion in liquid propellant rockets
Lecture 17 - Principal ideas of combustion in gas turbine afterburners
Lecture 18 – Combustion in boundary layers and hybrid rockets – essential ideas and emerging trends
Week 7 : Lecture 19 – Instability in liquid propellant rockets and gas turbine afterburners– modes and mechanism
Lecture 20 – Strategies for evolving instability free designs – global and local considerations
Lecture 21 – Is there a connection between instability in LPP gas turbine primary combustors and rockets/afterburners?
Week 8 : Lecture 22 – Discussion 1
Lecture 23 – Discussion 2
Lecture 24 – Overview of topics covered, topic not covered and what next?

Books and references

1. Understanding Combustion. H S Mukunda
2. Understanding Aerospace Chemical Propulsion. H S Mukunda.
3. Beckstead, Merrill W., R. L. Derr, and C. F. Price. "A model of composite solid-propellant combustion based on multiple flames." AiAA Journal 8.12 (1970): 2200-2207.
4. Varunkumar, S., M. Zaved, and H. S. Mukunda. "A novel approach to composite propellant combustion modeling with a new Heterogeneous Quasi One-dimensional (HeQu1-D) framework." Combustion and Flame 173 (2016): 411-424.
5. Varunkumar, S., and H. S. Mukunda. "Aluminized composite propellant combustion modeling with Heterogeneous Quasi-One dimensional (HeQu1-D) approach." Combustion and Flame 192 (2018): 59-70

Instructor bio

Prof. S Varunkumar

IIT Madras
Dr. S Varunkumar holds a BTech in Mechanical Engineering from NIT, Trichy (2007), and Ph. D in Engineering sciences from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore(2013). He worked at IIT, Ropar for a brief period of 7 months and is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras. He teaches undergraduate thermodynamics and graduate level course in numerical methods for thermal engineering, combustion and rocket propulsion. His research interests include, instability in solid propellant rockets and thermo-chemical conversion of lingo-cellulosic biomass and coal. His published work of significance in peer journals includes modeling of solid propellant combustion and lingo-cellulosic fuels. He is a participant in technical committees of ISRO and DRDO.

Prof. H S Mukunda

IISc Bangalore
Prof. H S Mukunda was educated at the Mysore University (Bachelor degree in 1963 in Mechanical engineering) and Indian Institute of Science (Masters degree in Aeronautial engineering in 1965 and Ph. D in engineering sciences in 1970) served on the faculty at the Aerospace Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Science for 34 years. He taught and did research in combustion sciences for aerospace vehicles and missiles and other industrial biomass and fossil fuel based combustion devices. He has supervised over twenty-five doctoral theses, about four dozen Masters theses and developed several courses in Aerospace Engineering. He has published extensively on thermo-chemical conversion and written several books Understanding Combustion (second edition) and Understanding Aerospace Chemical Propulsion, and Understanding clean conversion of biomass to energy and fuels and Understanding Aerospace Vehicles. He has participated in the development process of major launch vehicles of ISRO and missiles of DRDO through review committees and troubleshooting several technical glitches and continues to be a participant in technical committees of ISRO and DRDO.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 
26 March 2023 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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