Other challenges, including advanced modelling of the engine’s behaviour and integration of the engine into a functioning flight vehicle, remain to be overcome before proceeding to test flights.
Deputy Head of School for Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at University of Sydney, Associate Professor Matthew Cleary, said computational fluid dynamics simulations - a mathematical method which models the movement of liquids and gases - will be an important element to the improved design of the engine and its testing.
“The rotating detonation engine combustor is an extreme environment that cannot easily be tested. Experimental measurements cannot provide all the information we need to optimise these engines,” Cleary said.
“Not only did the simulations complement the experiments, but at the same time, the new models that we are developing will be validated from the experimental data and then used for future design work.”
Meanwhile, Universität der Bundeswehr’s Professor Christian Mundt has brought significant expertise in perfecting ratios of fuel and oxidizer in the propellant and its precision injection into the combustor.
“I am glad and proud to be the international partner on this important programme,” he said.
Supporting Australia’s space industry
Although this technology is in its early stages, further development could support satellite launches from Australian soil and commercial opportunities for Australia’s space industry, while indirectly supporting telecommunications, agriculture, transport, logistics and other industries.
DefendTex Chief Executive Travis Reddy said he was proud of the researchers for achieving an ‘Australian first’, while joining an elite list of countries who’d successfully demonstrated this technology.
“A few years ago, little funding and support was available for early-stage research in space technology, and through the Cooperative Research Centre Program the opportunity for collaborative engagement between academia, industry and defence has been made possible,” Reddy said.
“This is allowing Australia to rapidly strengthen capability and expertise in this field to achieve game changing breakthroughs, future-proofing our economy and capturing a greater share of the space launch market.”
This project would not have been possible without Cooperative Research Centre project funding.
Story: Michael Quin