A Florida team working with the U.S. Air Force has announced that it has built and tested an experimental model of a rotating blast rocket engine that is understood to use a rotating explosion in a circular tunnel to generate super-efficient thrust,media reported.
Of course, the vast majority of engines achieve their output goals by burning rather than exploding. However, combustion is a relatively slow, controlled process, produced by the reaction of fuel and oxygen at high temperatures, and as a technology it has been well understood and has matured.
Explosions, though quick, are chaotic and difficult to predict. Explosions are a great option when widespread destruction is needed, but when precise control is needed, it may be a different story.
But considering that when the spacecraft gets rid of the Earth’s gravity and goes into space, the weight of each gram makes things more difficult and expensive. Blasts can release more energy with less fuel than combustion. So for more than 60 years, rocket scientists have been studying rotary blasting rockets in the hope of using it as a potential solution to reduce weight and increase thrust.
In essence, such a device is a cylinder in another larger cylinder, with a gap and some small holes or gaps between them that can push the detonating fuel mixture into it. Some form of ignition causes a blast in the ring gap, and the resulting gas is pushed to one end of the ring channel, which in turn produces thrust in the opposite direction. But at the same time it also produces a shock wave that travels around the channel at about five times the speed of sound, which can be used to detonate more explosions in a self-sustaining, rotating manner if fuel is added at the right time and at the right place.
In the 1950s, rotary blast engines, pioneered by engineers at the University of Michigan, were mechanically simple, but the self-transmitted blast waves were difficult to achieve and self-sustaining.
Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Central Florida and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Rotary Blast Rocket Engine Project said they had built and tested a working laboratory model. It is reported that the model is a 3-inch copper test bench, using a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen as fuel.
“This study is the first to provide experimental evidence of a safe and effective hydrogen-oxygen propellant explosion in a rotary blast rocket engine,” said Kareem Ahmed, an assistant professor in the UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering who led the study. We have tested thrusts of up to 200lbf, but the thrust increases linearly with the mass flow of the propellant. “
Ahmed toldmedia newatlas that the engine design is currently under evaluation and could replace the RL-10 rocket engine first developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne in 1962. Given that the latest versions of the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets are still in production, and new versions of the OmegA and Vulcan rockets are still under development, this proven rotating blast rocket engine could be a game-changer.
“The U.S. Air Force is aiming to conduct a rocket launch flight test by 2025, and we are working toward that goal,” Ahmed said. “