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China has created a new type of rocket engine

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China has created a new type of rocket engine
Developers from China have created a new type of rocket engine that uses oxygen from the oncoming air flow. In theory, it can become the optimal solution for hypersonic aircraft.

The idea of ​​a rotating detonation engine (RDE), improved in power compared to traditional counterparts, was invented by scientists from the USSR in the middle of the last century. Then the idea was carried out by the theoretical physicist Wang Bing, together with his team from the Institute of Aerospace Engineering at Beijing Tsinghua University. The engine, which is based on the rotation of continuous detonation in a specialized disk, uses fuel half as much as similar classic engines. In addition, when using it, the mass of the rocket can be reduced significantly, since it does not require oxygen tanks. The only drawback of the design is the possibility of damage to components due to continuous detonations, so such an engine requires careful control during operation.



According to the creators, the walls of heavy cylinders make it possible to launch and sustain a chain of shock waves, but in a disk this process has become more difficult to start due to limited space. The first prototypes of the engine could not satisfy the rocket industry because they had a large mass, but the scientists of Wang's group were able to compress the cylindrical combustion cell into a relatively light and small disk.

Last February, at a specialized conference, Wang Bing and his team said that the resulting layout had previously seemed impossible to implement, but a complete redesign of all elements made it possible. Development tests showed that the main components of the engines must meet strict design requirements, since even a slight deviation of any element from the desired position could lead to the fact that the engine would not start. The cramped space inside the disk made it necessary to look for new solutions. So, instead of some bolts and fasteners, the researchers had to use the force of friction as a fastener for the elements.



In January, Wang's group tested the developed VDD. The engine was mounted on top of a 2-stage rocket. He used a cylinder design, according to a photo released by Tsinghua University. As a result of the tests, the engine was able to provide secondary thrust to the second stage.

In a publication presented back in 2020, the group announced plans to combine detonation technology with a scramjet (hypersonic ramjet engine). This technology will allow launching an aircraft into low Earth orbit. According to scientists, such a mixture will help speed up the engine start and increase efficiency.

The Russian Federation, the United States, France, Japan, Poland and other countries are also working on various versions of such developments, but most of their tests are carried out on the ground.
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