Probabilistic reliability analysis of carbon/carbon composite nozzle cones with uncertain parameters

Weihua Xie, Yuanjian Yang, Songhe Meng, Tao Peng, Jie Yuan, Fabrizio Scarpa, Chenghai Xu, Hua Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


A methodology to perform the probabilistic and reliability-based design of a novel carbon/carbon rocket nozzle subjected to operational thermal and mechanical loads is described in this paper. In this methodology, the nozzle is represented by a multiphysics finite element model capable of predicting the temperature and stress fields of the exit cone. The analysis shows that the most likely failure modes of the exit cone are related to compressive stress along the axial and hoop directions, as well as interlaminar shear. The probabilistic models used in this methodology account for the uncertainty of the material properties by using uniform and normal distributions and different variances. The reliability analysis is performed by using surface response methods. A global sensitivity analysis is also carried out using polynomial expansion chaos surface response models. A particular novelty of the analysis is the use of Sobol indices to rank the importance of the single uncertain parameters in the models. The methodology provides a high level of confidence and robustness in determining that the axial thermal conductivity of the carbon/carbon material is the most critical material property to affect the three main failure modes, whereas the coefficient of the thermal expansion and the heat capacity play a very marginal role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1765-1774
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number6
Early online date18 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • rocket nozzle
  • exit cone
  • reliability
  • carbon/carbon
  • uncertainty


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