European defence and aerospace firm EADS is working with Russian scientists on the development of a continuous detonation wave engine (CDWE), which would be theoretically capable of Mach 5 hypersonic flight.
A €3.4 million project involving EADS' corporate technical office and Russian researchers from the Lavrentiev Institute will attempt to develop CDWE for future aerospace applications. A detonation engine is a type of propulsion system that uses detonation waves to combust the fuel and oxidizer mixture. The technology is still very much at formative stages – no detonation engine has been put into production so far, but several test bed engines with pulsed detonation have been built.
Theoretically, a detonation engine can operate from subsonic up to a hypersonic flight speed of roughly Mach 5. Detonation engines are believed to have a thermodynamic efficiency higher than other designs like turbojets and turbofans because a detonation wave rapidly compresses the mixture and adds heat at constant volume.
Dr. Jean Botti, EADS chief technical officer, said: “Our research in Russia is another example of the EADS corporate technical office’s strategy of partnering with world class institutes and organisations to develop leading edge aerospace solutions for the future.”
EADS has already performed preliminary theoretical and experimental works with the Lavrentiev Institute. These studies have been aimed at obtaining a first demonstration of the feasibility of a continuous detonation wave engine for air-breathing and rocket applications. Compared to a pulsed detonation engine, this design allows an easier operation in reduced-pressure environment and an increase in engine mass flow rate and thrust-to weight ratio, it said.