Energy Center

Steve Heister

Contact Information

ARMS 3331
Aeronautics and Astronautics
College of Engineering
Purdue University, IN 47907


Professor Heister has addressed a large number of areas during his tenure at Purdue. Early efforts involved development of a variety of models for liquid injection and atomization processes. Both boundary element calculations of detailed atomization processes and homogeneous flow/pseudo-density models have been developed to assess unsteady processes in injection systems. Models for gas/liquid and cavitating flows have been developed for use within the homogeneous fluid architecture, both 2-D and 3-D models have been developed for use in this context. Both 2-D and 3-D boundary element codes have also been developed and applied to both pressure and pressure-swirl atomizers with and without gas-phase contributions. Several graduate students continue to pursue these areas within Dr. Heister's research group.

During the past decade, Professor Heister has become more involved with experimental work at the substantial propulsion laboratories available at theMaurice J. Zucrow Lab complex. In this context, his group has been involved with solid, hybrid, and liquid rocket engine developments. Substantial work has been done with hydrogen peroxide-based hybrid rockets using various ignition schemes and a multitude of fuel combinations. The group collaborates closely with Air Force and Navy Laboratories in the assessment of new liquid and hybrid rocket propellants. The group has been a substantial contributer to development of nontoxic hypergolic propellants for liquid rocket applications. Studies have also been conducted under DARPA sponsorship with regard to propulsion systems for mobile land mines. An experimental facility has been developed to study cyclic operation of Pulse Detonation Engines at frequencies as high as 50 Hz. 

In 2003, Dr. Heister was named the Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center in High Mach Propulsion, the first such center in the United States. In accordance with this role, he collaborates with other AAE and ME faculty in developing experimental facitlies to heat sink and coking characteristics of gas turbine fuels at aggressive high temperature conditions. In addition, this group is pursuing advanced fuel injectors for application to high Mach jet engines.  

Expertise: Aerospace propulsion systems, Airbreathing and rocket engine combustors, Liquid propellant injection systems, Two-phase and capillary flows




B.S.E., Aerospace Engineering, The University of Michigan, 1981
M.S.E., Aerospace Engineering, The University of Michigan, 1983
Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, 1988


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