The accurate numerical prediction of gas flows within micro-nozzles can help evaluate the performance and enable the design of optimal configurations for micro-propulsion systems. Viscous effects within the large boundary layers can have a strong impact on the nozzle performance. Furthermore, the variation in collision length scales from continuum to rarefied preclude the use of continuum-based computational fluid dynamics. In this paper, we describe the application of a massively parallel direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) library to predict the steady-state and transient flow through a micro-nozzle. The nozzle’s geometric configuration is described in a highly flexible manner to allow for the modification of the geometry in a systematic fashion. The transient simulation highlights a strong shock structure that forms within the converging portion of the nozzle when the expanded gas interacts with the nozzle walls. This structure has a strong impact on the buildup of the gas in the nozzle and affects the boundary layer thickness beyond the throat in the diverging section of the nozzle. Future work will look to examine the transient thrust and integrate this simulation capability into a web-based rarefied gas dynamics prediction software, which is currently under development.

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