New Propulsion System Could Enable Flying at Speeds Up to Mach 17

Conceptual Hypersonic Aircraft

A conceptual hypersonic aircraft, powered by an oblique detonation wave engine, is pictured. Background image credit: NASA. Aircraft and composite image credit: Daniel Rosato, UCF.

The UCF-developed propulsion system could allow for flight speeds of Mach 6 to 17 (more than 4,600 to 13,000 miles per hour) and would have applications in air and space travel.

University of Central Florida researchers are building on their technology that could pave the way for hypersonic flight, such as travel from New York to Los Angeles in under 30 minutes.

In their latest research published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers discovered a way to stabilize the detonation needed for hypersonic propulsion by creating a special hypersonic reaction chamber for jet engines.

“There is an intensifying international effort to develop robust propulsion systems for hypersonic and supersonic flight that would allow flight through our atmosphere at very high speeds and also allow efficient entry and exit from planetary atmospheres,” says study co-author Kareem Ahmed, an associate professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “The discovery of stabilizing a detonation — the most powerful form of intense reaction and energy release — has the potential to revolutionize hypersonic propulsion and energy systems.”

The system could allow for air travel at speeds of Mach 6 to 17, which is more than 4,600 to 13,000 miles (7,400 to 21,000 kilometers) per hour. The technology harnesses the power of an oblique detonation wave, which they formed by using an angled ramp inside the reaction chamber to create a detonation-inducing shock wave for propulsion.

Unlike rotating detonation waves that spin, oblique detonation waves are stationary and stabilized.

The technology improves jet propulsion engine efficiency so that more power is generated while using less fuel than traditional propulsion engines, thus lightening the fuel load and reducing costs and emissions.

In addition to faster air travel, the technology could also be used in rockets for space missions to make them lighter by requiring less fuel, travel farther and burn more cleanly.

Detonation propulsion systems have been studied for more than half a century but had not been successful due to the chemical propellants used or the ways they were mixed. Previous work by Ahmed’s group overcame this problem by carefully balancing the rate of the propellants hydrogen and oxygen released into the engine to create the first experimental evidence of a rotating detonation.

However, the short duration of the detonation, often occurring for only micro or milliseconds, makes them difficult to study and impractical for use.

In the new study, however, the UCF researchers were able to sustain the duration of a detonation wave for three seconds by creating a new hypersonic reaction chamber, known as a hypersonic high-enthalpy reaction, or HyperREACT, facility. The facility contains a chamber with a 30-degree angle ramp near the propellent mixing chamber that stabilizes the oblique detonation wave.

“This is the first time a detonation has been shown to be stabilized experimentally,” Ahmed says. “We are finally able to hold the detonation in space in oblique detonation form. It’s almost like freezing an intense explosion in physical space.”

Gabriel Goodwin, an aerospace engineer with the Naval Research Laboratory’s Naval Center for Space Technology and study co-author, says their research is helping to answer many of the fundamental questions that surround oblique detonation wave engines.

Goodwin’s role in the study was to use the Naval Research Laboratory’s computational fluid dynamics codes to simulate the experiments performed by Ahmed’s group.

“Studies such as this one are crucial to advancing our understanding of these complex phenomena and bringing us closer to developing engineering-scale systems,” Goodwin says.

“This work is exciting and pushing the boundaries of both simulation and experiment,” Goodwin says. “I’m honored to be a part of it.”

The study’s lead author is Daniel Rosato ’19 ’20MS, a graduate research assistant and a recipient of UCF’s Presidential Doctoral Fellowship.

Rosato has been working on the project since he was an aerospace engineering undergraduate student and is responsible for experiment design, fabrication, and operation, as well as data analysis, with assistance from Mason Thorton, a study co-author and an undergraduate research assistant.

Rosato says the next steps for the research are the addition of new diagnostics and measurement tools to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomena they are studying.

“After that, we will continue exploring more experimental configurations to determine in more detail the criteria with which an oblique detonation wave can be stabilized,” Rosato says.

If successful in advancing this technology, detonation-based hypersonic propulsion could be implemented into human atmospheric and space travel in the coming decades, the researchers say.

Reference: “Stabilized detonation for hypersonic propulsion” by Daniel A. Rosato, Mason Thornton, Jonathan Sosa, Christian Bachman, Gabriel B. Goodwin and Kareem A. Ahmed, 10 May 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2102244118

The study was funded by the long-term support of the Energy, Combustion, and Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics Portfolio of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in the area of detonation via grants 16RT0673/FA9550-16-1-0441 and 19RT0258/FA9550-19-0322 (Program Manager: Chiping Li), the National Science Foundation and the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium.

Co-authors of the study included Jonathan Sosa ’15 ’18 ’19PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist with UCF’s Propulsion and Energy Research Laboratory and currently an aerospace engineer at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and Christian Bachman, an aerospace engineer at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

Ahmed is an associate professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, part of UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. He is also a faculty member of the Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research and the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion. He served more than three years as a senior aero/thermo engineer at Pratt & Whitney military engines working on advanced engine programs and technologies. He also served as a faculty member at Old Dominion University and Florida State University. At UCF, he is leading research in propulsion and energy with applications for power generation and gas-turbine engines, propulsion-jet engines, hypersonics and fire safety, as well as research related to supernova science and COVID-19 transmission control. He earned his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics associate fellow and a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Office of Naval Research faculty fellow.

56 Comments on "New Propulsion System Could Enable Flying at Speeds Up to Mach 17"

  1. Travel at up to 17 times speed of sound (~12,000 mph)…When that engine becomes available, it may take much more time to develop an airframe capable of hosting that engine. At near orbital re-entry speeds, aerodynamic heating would be ferocious. Imagine a space shuttle capable of sustained flight. Quite a challenge!

    • Clyde Spencer | May 19, 2021 at 8:42 am | Reply

      Yes, it does seem to be a case of putting the horse before the cart. Assuming that the problems regarding the engine are solved, if there isn’t an airframe design that can withstand (And, dissipate!) the heat generated, the engine will never be used in the atmosphere.

      Without a robust airframe, every flight of such a hypersonic vehicle would be a potential Columbia disaster!

      • Use the ceramic re-entry tiles used now until some composite material which will be lighter and be able to stand the temps can be devised. Let the Communist Chinese cull of their stolen knowledge. They’ll combine the best thefts for the optimal solution. After gun pouder, the retards haven’t had an original thought.

  2. Veryoldfarmer | May 19, 2021 at 1:46 am | Reply

    This type of research continues until some much less ambitious use appears or the grant money runs out.

  3. This is very interesting and I hope to see more advancements in the prototype in the future.


  5. 30 minutes, New York to LA would be wonderful, but if it still takes 30 minutes to open the door, not so much.

  6. I wish we would spend as much time and effort in the research of Inner-Space as we do for Outer-Space. We still haven’t solved our species civilizational needs of cooperating together and universally. There appears to be an AAG (“adversarial anarchy gene”) that has yet to be tamed and in turn, delays so much of our species real progress and advancement. The Next War could turn our lights out – FOREVER ~

    • Clyde Spencer | May 19, 2021 at 8:51 am | Reply

      You are assuming that if the Killer Ape were to become docile, altruistic, and cooperative that we would benefit. It might mean the end of evolution of humans. It would almost certainly mean the end of individualism. Personally, big cities are already too much like a hive existence for my taste.

    • While we need more cooperation globally, you can’t force people to get along, and research will not solve that effectively. But if you want to research these things, go for it. Why leave it up to others?

  7. And those stupid chinks in the Chinese government are already trying to steal the plans for this new engine. Please don’t let those scumbags steal it and try to pass it off as their own achievement.

    • Trying???? They have it immediately! If not, Biden, their employee will order DARPA to give it to them. After the Chinese invented gun powder, they became ret*rds.

  8. Sh*t give me a rough blu-print
    And I’ll fab a cabin in my sleep!!!
    Steel fabricator Milwaukee..
    Old school, real world…

  9. Look up into the sky. So many stars, galaxies, things waiting for your eyes to see and hands to feel! In order for humanity to see the vastness of space, it’s body must change. Some say that happens in the next life, that this life is merely a “test”. I think they’re right. Humanity or this life is not insignificant! This is the lie perpetuated by an evil/negative force which goes against all that is alive! It wants you to do wrong, not care, or do harm, to forget! In so that it may propagate to other things, space, and time and corrupt them too! And so then the cycle of decay and fade repeats. It does not have to!

    Do what is right and listen to what the universe is already telling you. It’s vibrations, a harmony of information if one may listen or even feel! In a second it could all be turned off; gravity fail or an asteroid impact. But no! How great is that! In time we loose the things we care so much about; decay, broken, lost, died. These things are the force against which the universe is! The universe is everlasting information. But what it doesn’t have enough of is something that transcends space and time. Far beyond the strength of gravity and light. Something so profound and infinitely complex. And from that and all the things you see or know in the galaxy and beyond, created you. To see, hear, listen feel, smell, remember, touch, taste, cry, anger, decide. How great it is to look to the sky and proclaim “I Love You” to what created you. “Thank you” for what has given you the senses! For the reason why it did shouldn’t be questioned when trying to populate spaces illuminated by light. But may it be so simple that it did so in order to remember and be aware of itself? In that the universe (information) never die, grow old, or forget. Maybe it just needs a bit of light now and then to see what’s next.

  10. Anonymous Human | May 20, 2021 at 4:33 am | Reply

    Funny how this comes out after the pentagon releases videos of craft able to fly 4000-13000 mph. Coincidence..i higly doubt it. This is the “slow disclosure” theyve been planning for decades.

  11. Ok. But looks like whoever is controlling or inside the ufos have already beaten us to the punch.

  12. Those people would invent anything rather than tell you the truth they’ve into water like it wasn’t there military pilots been reporting them 50 years pilots say there everything from sauser shaped to triangular can stop in midair defy all laws of phisics including ingredients turns that would kill any human aboard all to cover the recently release navy photos of them 100s they said and the national security personnel best in the business said there real and they can’t be explained and now the pentagon would like to give you what ever plausible denial to cover there as of not revealing the up and coming president trumps ufo means more horses#!t that they either don’t know or more likely working with some intelligence.and who knows with china,China, states,States, on mars with Russia planning to go with European space agency in 2022 thats five country’s,everything we’ve seen on mars is all mirrors and trick of sight including the 20 years of denying water on mars even after the ice poles melt during its 600 and some odd day summer that water was never there and it didn’t flow anywhere. You,ll get to know cover before you ever see it. Equator on mars reaches 80 degree farenheight so you put it together.they think they can baffle you with horse rap about everything.

  13. I wouldn’t trust this piece of alien crap im holding to get a message to someone without it being read,you think id believe some coverup story for the up and coming 1000s of uaf or ufo the pentagon has to answer hard questions about, their own pilot 50 year ufo reports

  14. Jesse Lackey | May 20, 2021 at 3:44 pm | Reply

    Well,maybe this explains all the UFO sightings…the craft were clocked at speeds of up to 13,000 mph…..

  15. Can I survive mach 7 to 13? Just thought I’d ask before boarding.

  16. Walter Weeks | May 21, 2021 at 6:09 am | Reply

    What about all the satellites? That would be an interesting game?!?

  17. As God says knowledge will increase children getting smarter way early than ever before all things automatic mankind will not be able to hide mankind learns to fly like the birds ps YouTube videos guy Cramer hyper stealth Corp bending light invisibility nano bots metamaterial Tesla antigravity spacecraft Ronald Reagan star wars program force shields force fields laws lasers jasper maskyln the war illusionists

    • you suffer from punctuation deficit syndrome go see an md neuropunctualist perhaps its not too late you never know but I’ve never observed such a severe case you need electroshock regiment maybe they can save your life if combined with enough therapy you’ll be able to perhaps punctualize and your worthless life might be saved but the nonsense you right is a complete different condition not enough research has been done on nonesenseitis because democrats haven’t found a constituency

  18. Which begs the question. If you fart in a pressurized cabin while the jet accelerates, how would the gas move? Would it be pushed toward the back of the plane? Anyone have a formula or computer simulation to calculate this? Thanks.

    • You know nothing about physics! The farm is inside a close system. To the people inside the plane, it would just linger in place. To an outside observer, it wouldn’t last long enough to be observed.

  19. Now we need to look at insulation which may be in the isotopic enriched boron nitride aerogel catagorys with graphene paint for electronics

    Then we need a radio trophic grown craft aka myco aerodynamics an enhanced with ai DNA smart tech to connect driver with vehicle

    • Good thinking! Then we’re going to need oxiboron-trinide to stop ovaloid acidic basic 2nd stage flux!

  20. Why would anyone want to travel that fast ??? Slow down smell the flowers ,Notice other dimensions..
    After a few disasters ,anyone involved would be shamed and blackballed..this is more comedy then science.. Freeze this explosion ..Just Farted Loud….

  21. Ummmm..have we forgotten a little thing called G-forces? The current generation of fighter jets already push pilots to their physical limits. There is no way we will see a passenger jet flying at the speeds of a current fighter jet, let alone speeds faster than one. Traveling at Mach 17 would kill everyone on board that plane.

    • Yeah, schmuck, if the American Airlines pilot decides he wants to dive and then loop vertically to an ascend!

  22. This technology was discussed decades ago.

  23. These people are idiots and have watched the Jetsons and Buck Rogers too much…I hope no person is Stupid enough to buy into this.

  24. This will never see the light of day even if they’re successful. The military will scoop this up and it will never become commercially viable. Too much chance of the enemy getting a hold of this technology.

  25. Frank Kushner | May 24, 2021 at 1:05 pm | Reply

    Hmmm. Isn’t the limit used for low cycle fatigue about 10,000 cycles. One flight?

  26. Full ahead 1/2 impulse.

  27. So, by publishing all this you’ve made it even easier for the Communist Chinese to steal the technology. Ah, Biden, their employee, would have given it to them anyway!

  28. Franz Lee Rust | May 24, 2021 at 1:49 pm | Reply

    you make it so that the fuel exists in a thick armorred semispereical long oval cavity so that if a crash happens that passengers wont blow up.the hardcore survival stories of the future awaits.

  29. James Person | May 24, 2021 at 2:08 pm | Reply

    I’ve been in a flight simulator when I was a kid at Mach 5 and it is too slow for me I can do Mach 7

  30. James Person | May 24, 2021 at 2:10 pm | Reply

    You have to slow down the speed on the inside well it’s faster on the outside just got to control the gravity

  31. James Person | May 24, 2021 at 2:13 pm | Reply

    Zero gravity inside so when you go really really fast your body is still and your brain won’t become spaghetti I’m a Scientists and freelance biologist you don’t have to have a license to be either one

  32. Timmy bennett | May 24, 2021 at 4:37 pm | Reply

    Got a pic of this ship in my SKY, it is in play now

  33. Winston Smith | May 24, 2021 at 5:05 pm | Reply

    “King David’s Spaceship”
    Jerry Pournell

  34. Actually going that speed would be fine as long as the acceleration deceleration were gradual and no sharp lateral movements. But the uaps recently seen by pilots break all those rules. A person inside would be smashed like a pancake. Ther would have to be s Gforce compensatorbeyond our understanding of physics.

  35. It’s not new technology.. just suppressed from the public. They’ve known about this technology for years, just choosing to announce it now. Ain’t that right George Jetson?

  36. jose jr miletante | May 25, 2021 at 3:27 am | Reply

    baware of the chinese communist….

  37. This has been operational since 1993.
    Drawing is spot on leaves a green vapor trail…seen entering White Sands Test Range one am 1993.

  38. XJ15 flew at 5700 mph anything is possible.Where Americans we can an have done the impossible.

  39. It’s strange how much the photo likes like the UFOs that are government has finally admitted having seen them.and now there coming out with new power . strange how that

  40. So, no dinner and movie on this flight ?

  41. Great idea now the psychopaths living among us can spread covid much faster and easier, yes wonderful 👏

  42. They are coming out with all these lies to cover up what we have already known for years.. the government is about to reveal all the lies about UFOS that’s why they are coming out with these new story’s about traveling faster then we have .. it’s called reverse technology…

  43. Peter M Foster | May 25, 2021 at 11:45 pm | Reply

    I like the idea of traveling faster than the speed of sound, but what is even more interesting is getting the vehicle to stop. If the geodiscs were accurate we could determine coordinates set them from where we will be, meaning the earth the sun and the spaces we occupy change instantaneously, so a projection of where we will be to the point or points of where we would like to be. First you would need to map the solar system, the associated galaxy and the details, of our math and mapping abilities of us being somewhere in the universe. Now that may p*ss a lot of people off but think about it, the globe, a sphere of light u able to be seen from beyond the local geographical and limited to our narrow eye sight, imagine how much we do not see, and so they might, but you’ll st I digress, not at all start with the center of the earth and count, like a nautilus and start with the acid of a gyroscope, one by one one two by two. . Start 285714, infinite coordinates at least we can show something not had before as the probability of reaching beyond the atoms feathers of the sun and moon will be even greater achievements, yet not thinking about the sensory of the totality of the waters on the exterior of our relative shell, now use sense and see the proton cube working in the midst, tritium, 3domensions 1 by 1, 2 by 2, 15 by 15, 25 by 25. 30 by 50 what’s left omega, copl stuff. Alcoa omega the eye of the needle, the center if the omega… so stretch the limit put it on its side and start thinking of ogr iris, ths feathers associated with the cmos an observatory system of of centralized or computerized macular observativion system, like early auditory recognition systems, hear tfat tone gow much do we miss… the limit is infinite like out imagination, never close down ot turn away from that dream, dreaming a dream, they say in sync with the dreamer of dreams nothing is impossible it has to be, like a vacuum, what’s there nothing is something, so run with the force of the proton requirement of being equal to it greater than the matter to be moved mass delta, and push open the heavens so as to create your own earth like Abraham, and the altar he built between so, the eye and the Bethel, which was the city of light, Luz, and think how we can create vuancy in the air so thin to have our homes as we have them now in the heavens of the space we still need to define. Dont let the intimjdators or those that call you wrong stop you, thing of the earth being made as an arch not by the tools of man but by ny the dreams of our thoughts in the refined space of our existence, waters from the waters what are we missing, the majority of the waters outside of our current t grasp, start with a gyroscope and begin to fly, using the magnetic energies of tbe wings of the scope to steer you as you sit in the, what is called the hero seat, the center, of the gyroscope, eager yes, realty also, movement said isaac, come with a little push of the envelop, someone once said we push through. . I agree, don’t push it but hut push through it we still have a long way to go, imagine the wilderness we have in yet to discover. The area between the nucleus, a proton, a neutron of centrifugal force as the earth turns and focuses our light on the heaviness of the clear blue skies, like the clear moon today, a true beauty, and the threshing floor of the velocities of light carving our place in space, kike a broom pushing aside the water in the ocean, imagine the requirements yo keep it sustainable got our human requirements, look and see. Feel and know, the objective is not to not others think for you but think of the wonders of the world and create them, the linear focus of the area inside or global sphere of solar power, and keep going in leaning in, there you sandy, goldberg right, gram flo and isadore, is a door, like the shining door, shenendohowa, grab some and fly the, so we do, but not yet with our own wings, plan for it. If you wish for with God, is all things and by GOD WE ARE, possibilities become pronounced as we believe they are, believe it and so it will be. BELIEVE, and you’ll have the wings beneath your feet, and at the true temples of thought, zues, what’s that he says, I follow, the apo llo, i have said a lot, but not enough, keep the faith. Selah.

  44. Has anyone considered the volume of a sonic boom produced by an object flying at mach 17? 30 minute flight from New York to Los Angeles sounds cool for the people in the plane, but everyone on the ground aren’t gonna agree.

  45. Half hour from LA to NY is doubtful. It takes time to climb and descend no matter what you are flying. Top end speed would be momentary. It would take 20-30 minutes just to descend and slow down to a reasonable landing speed.

  46. ok, not a ufo person I just had a dream to make this type of tech possible I guess I am a little late to party on this one but it keeps coming night after night. I do not Have an Aerospace background. It involves using an artificial vacuum I can Draw it out just need someone to go over the math if that makes sense. I can provide a paper on it if needed I do things old school nothing on a computer.

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