Modeling Tool Could Speed Up Engine Development for Hypersonic Flight

Scientists from Argonne National Laboratory and Air Force Research Laboratory have developed a new numerical modeling tool that allows for a better understanding of a powerful engine that could one day propel the next generation of airplanes and rockets. Unlike conventional gas turbine engines, rotating detonation engines, or RDEs (shown in simulation here) use high-intensity, self-sustaining detonation — a supersonic reaction wave coupled with a shock — to rapidly consume the fuel-air mixture, typically in a ring-shaped, cylindrical chamber. To streamline the simulation process, Argonne researchers built a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to predict the combustion behavior of rotating detonation engines.