New Propulsion System Could Enable Flying at Speeds Up to Mach 17!

  • The new propulsion system contains a chamber to stabilize detonation

  • Instead of detonation traveling up or down, it is captured on a ramp.

  • This allows it to be used as a power source and not be released around the craft.

  • Experts conducted an experiment that stabilized it for three seconds

  • This is the first time a detonation has been shown to be stabilized experimentally.

  • Scientists say this method will provide speeds from Mach 6 to Mach 17.

The system could allow for air travel at speeds of Mach 6 to 17, which is more than 4,600 to 13,000 miles per hour. The technology harnesses the power of an oblique detonation wave, which they formed by using an angled ramp inside the reaction chamber to create a detonation-inducing shock wave for propulsion.

The technology improves jet propulsion engine efficiency so that more power is generated while using less fuel than traditional propulsion engines, thus lightening the fuel load and reducing costs and emissions.

In addition to faster air travel, the technology could also be used in rockets for space missions to make them lighter by requiring less fuel, travel farther and burn more cleanly.

Detonation propulsion systems have been studied for more than half a century but had not been successful due to the chemical propellants used or the ways they were mixed. Previous work by Ahmed’s group overcame this problem by carefully balancing the rate of the propellants hydrogen and oxygen released into the engine to create the first experimental evidence of a rotating detonation.

Gabriel Goodwin, an aerospace engineer with the Naval Research Laboratory’s Naval Center for Space Technology and study co-author, says their research is helping to answer many of the fundamental questions that surround oblique detonation wave engines.

In the new study, however, the UCF researchers were able to sustain the duration of a detonation wave for three seconds by creating a new hypersonic reaction chamber, known as a hypersonic high-enthalpy reaction, or HyperREACT, facility. The facility contains a chamber with a 30-degree angle ramp near the propellent mixing chamber that stabilizes the oblique detonation wave.