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Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE)

© TUB RDE Richard Bluemner

The Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE) uses a constant-volume combustion cycle, also known as Pressure Gain Combustion (PGC). In contrast to conventional constant-pressure combustion systems PGC has the potential to significantly increase the overall cycle efficiency and promises a reduction of the CO-emissions. RDEs boast a high power density and allow for a compression of the reactants during the combustion process.

The main feature of an RDE is its annular combustion chamber. A detonation wave is initiated and continuously travels within the annulus at a speed of several kilometers per second, while reactants are constantly fed to the system. After each passage of the wave, a layer of fresh reactants is established in preparation for the next passage of the wave, completing the cycle.

The stable and continuous operation of an RDE is difficult to achieve since certain fuels, due to partly short mixing times, large initiation energies, and geometric limitations. This project aims at understanding and improving the processes of reactant mixing, ignition, and an overall stable operation for different fuels as well as furthering the understanding of the mechanisms stabilizing the engine.

Due to the inherent risks in fully premixed operation, reactants are typically injected separately and mixed locally. This mixing process is currently being investigated in water tunnel studies to understand the mechanisms behind mixing for stable operation. The next steps are the integration of the knowledge gained in the water tunnel into combustion experiments in a 1 MW RDE.


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