Detonation-Wave Engines: The Key for Fuel Efficiency

Such engines can reduce fuel consumption, generate more power

A team of researchers working with the US Naval Research Laboratory is now busy investigating whether or not rotating detonation-wave engines can up the country's Navy fuel efficiency, while at the same time delivering more power than conventional gas-turbine engines.

Various experiments and calculations carried out thus far indicate that rotating detonation-wave engines could potentially deliver 10% more power than the run-off-the-mill propulsion technologies currently being used by the Navy.

As well as this, the use of these engines by the Navy could translate into fuel consumption being reduced by 25%, and this would in turn lead to the Navy's having to spend significantly less money on fuel.

More precisely, present yearly fuel costs ($2 billion / €1.55 billion) could be reduced by $300-$400 million ((€232.7 - €310.2 million).

Green Car Congress quotes one of Dr. Kazhikathra Kailasanath previous papers on this topic, which reads as follows: “Detonations have long been associated with explosions (and explosives), not with engines.”

However, “Research over the last several decades on materials that are able to withstand the high pressures, temperatures, and heat fluxes associated with detonations, and on initiators that are efficient, fast, and reliable, have made detonation engines a possibility.”

According to Eurek Alert, these scientists working for the US Naval Research Laboratory have thus far succeeded in developing a model that simulates how such a rotating detonation-wave engine would work.

Should things go as planned, these new engines could also be used to power planes, and thus also help cut down on the fuel requirements of the aviation industry.

“There are quite a few interesting aspects to the detonation cycle that make it an attractive alternative to the typical Brayton cycle,” Dr. Kazhikathra Kailasanath wished to emphasize.

Besides pushing for fuel efficiency, the US Navy is also looking into the possibility of using renewable energy sources to meet its electricity demands.

Moreover, one of their latest projects aims at figuring out a way to turn sea water into jet fuel.

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