Overcoming the challenges of high-speed aerodynamic tests using pressure control

Aerospace development and testing applications often require high flow rates to pressurize large volumes. One example is in gas reservoirs, where the reservoir must be pressurized prior to conducting high-speed aerodynamic tests.

Application requirements

A customer approached Alicat looking to pressurize a 200 L gas reservoir to 1000 PSIG. The gas held in the reservoir would then be quickly released into a high-speed wind tunnel via a rupture disc, producing a hypersonic flow with a high Mach number.

At such a high pressure, it can be challenging to quickly reach high mass flow rates due to valve limitations. This challenge can be circumvented by first using a high-flow bypass valve to pressurize the chamber and then switching to a high-precision pressure controller to maintain pressure.


Solution: Custom dual hammerhead valve gauge pressure controller

Research Dual valve pressure controller

For this application, Alicat designed a custom gauge pressure controller with side-by-side hammerhead valves. This device is capable of operating at pressures up to 1000 PSIG, with control response times under 30 ms.

The team was able to bring their reservoir pressure up to 1000 PSIG using two steps:

  1. Pressurize the reservoir chamber through a solenoid valve to 980 PSIG.
  2. Close the valve and finish filling the chamber using the Alicat PCDH-1000 PSIG controller.

This solution led to a highly responsive aerodynamic test process which was more streamlined than the original procedure. More importantly, it enhanced the reproducibility of the hypersonic wind tunnel experiments by providing a more consistent flow – and therefore a more consistent wind speed.

FastTrack Ordering

M/MC mass flow meters and controllers that ship in just 3-5 business days.
Standard or High Accuracy
Monochrome, Color, or None
Analog, RS-232, RS-485, or Modbus RTU
MD8, Locking Industrial, DB9M, DB15


2 SCCM - 500SLPM


2 SCCM - 100SLPM

Service and Support

Whether it is time for your instrument’s annual recalibration or your instrument needs a repair or upgrade,
you can fill out the Service Request Form below, email us, call us, or start a live chat session to get the service process started.

7641 N Business Park Dr. Tucson, AZ 85743

Geograaf 24
6921 EW
Duiven, The Netherlands