Detonation Engine Mach 17 Aircraft
Photo credit: Daniel Rosato, UCF
Researchers at the University of Central Florida are developing an innovative oblique detonation engine that could be the key to hypersonic flight, allowing one to travel from New York to Los Angeles in less than 30 minutes. This breakthrough was made possible after figuring out a way to stabilize the detonation needed for hypersonic propulsion by creating a special hypersonic reaction chamber for jet engines, enabling air travel at speeds of Mach 6 to 17 (4,600 to 13,000 miles per hour). Read more for a video on detonation engines and additional information.

The technology makes use of the power of an oblique detonation wave formed by using an angled ramp inside the reaction chamber to create a detonation-inducing shock wave for propulsion. Unlike rotating detonation waves that spin, these are stationary and stabilized, thus improving jet propulsion engine efficiency so that more power is generated while using less fuel than traditional propulsion engines.

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There is an intensifying international effort to develop robust propulsion systems for hypersonic and supersonic flight that would allow flight through our atmosphere at very high speeds and also allow efficient entry and exit from planetary atmospheres. The discovery of stabilizing a detonation — the most powerful form of intense reaction and energy release — has the potential to revolutionize hypersonic propulsion and energy systems,” said study co-author Kareem Ahmed, an associate professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

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