CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
- Apr 21, 2009
- Reaction score
A turbine engine must generate a uniform flow of combustion gases to spin its blades without excessive wear or risk of damage. A conventional turbine engine avoids damaging spikes in temperature and pressure by allowing the volume of gas to expand, which encourages even deflagration, the term for the rapid burning of the fuel-air mixture as it’s sprayed or injected into the combustor. The resulting stream of combustion gases rushes through the engine, spinning turbine blades before it exits.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Programs-Rocket Shop in Alabama is working on a radically different combustor design, one that would release energy in a rapid, continuous succession of detonations set off by shockwaves rotating inside a cylindrical combustor. Less fuel would be burned to turn the blades at a given speed, but the engineers must avoid subjecting the turbine blades to fluctuations in temperature and pressure that could damage them or wear them out too soon.