Scroll Top

Mach 16 detonation engines get green light in new DARPA funding round



Rotation detonation engines look like they’re capable of Mach 16 plus flight, so they are game changers if they can be commercialised.


Love the Exponential Future? Join our XPotential Community, future proof yourself with courses from XPotential University, read about exponential tech and trendsconnect, watch a keynote, or browse my blog.

You might not know much about rotating detonation engines, but if you were to know one thing about them then it’s this – one day they could power Mach 16 aircraft. And today DARPA contracted Raytheon to develop a practical version of a revolutionary air-breathing rotating detonation engine called Gambit, which would have no moving parts and could lead to lighter missiles with longer ranges at lower cost.


Robot waiters get bussing in Silicon Valley's newest hot restaurant


Gas turbines are remarkable power plants that have made possible modern air travel and many weapon systems, but they suffer from a number of disadvantages. They are complex machines that are heavy, have many moving parts that are costly to assemble and maintain, and they require exotic materials and special processing to handle the tremendous temperatures they operate at.

It’s bad enough when such an engine is installed in an aircraft, but when it’s part of a throwaway weapon like a cruise missile, this not only limits the payload, it runs into some serious money.

One alternative is the Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE), which replaces the complexities of the turbine with a peculiar property of burning fuel/air mixtures.


Mastercard launch their first quantum computer proof contactless card


In an RDE, a combustible mixture of fuel and air is introduced into a gap between two coaxial cylinders, with the gap sealed at one end and the other end forming into a nozzle. When the mixture is ignited, it burns in a very special way. The combustion takes the form of a supersonic wave that travels around inside the gap. As more fuel and air is introduced at the top, the wave continues going around in the gap, producing more and more heat and pressure, and is forced down until it exits through the nozzle, creating thrust.

Such an engine has a number of obvious advantages. They are simple in design, are hard to disable, easy to mass produce inexpensively, don’t require exotic metals and ceramics, and are lightweight and compact. They can also be configured with ramjets, gas turbines, and rockets for a wide range of possible applications.


China to spend $500 Billion by 2020 to build new high speed rail links


The problem is to take the RDE from the test benches, where they’ve dwelt in recent years, and create a functioning demonstrator. Under the DARPA contract, Raytheon will develop the Gambit engine through a series of iterations until it comes up with a design that can be adapted to future military weapon systems, especially new stand-off missiles to keep fourth-generation fighters relevant to the 21st century battlefield.

Currently, the project is in Phase 1, which covers preliminary design of the engine and its primary components. Phase 2 will deal with fabrication and testing of the actual engine. The ultimate goal will be to come up with an RDE that can be fitted to future prototype weapon systems.


Komatsu unveils its 250 ton autonomous dump truck for strip mines


“This is a revolutionary propulsion system,” said Colin Whelan, president of Advanced Technology at Raytheon. “We’re leveraging existing digital design tools and experience from across the entire RTX business to rapidly prototype this next-generation strike weapon and mature the technology.”

Source: Raytheon

Related Posts

Leave a comment


1000's of articles about the exponential future, 1000's of pages of insights, 1000's of videos, and 100's of exponential technologies: Get The Email from 311, your no-nonsense briefing on all the biggest stories in exponential technology and science.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This