Rotating Detonation Engines

Detonative waves as a means of producing thrust were first theorized in 1950’s by Professor James Arthur Nicholls at the University of Michigan when he built and tested what we now refer to as a pulse detonation engine (PDE). Likewise, rotating detonation engines (RDEs) are not a new concept. It is only in the past couple of decades however that RDEs have seen a renewed interest since.

An RDE is simply an annular combustor in which a detonation wave is trapped and propagating circumferentially consuming the freshly and continuously injected fuel and oxidizer mixture. Detonative combustion of the mixture leads to a gain in stagnation pressure and hence to a higher propulsion efficiency compared to constant pressure or deflagrative combustors such as a gas turbine combustor. In addition to a higher propulsion efficiency, an RDE consists of no moving parts and is compact which make even more attractive.

At the University of Michigan, we study these mechanically simple but physically complex engines. Our research investigates everything from injectors to wave dynamics. All of the data acquired from high-speed pressure transducers, CTAPs, high speed imaging, PMTs, and other diagnostics we employ is used to inform design choices and improve RDEs.

Publications

Shepard, Joshua, Alexander Feleo, and Mirko Gamba. “The Effect of Facility Induced Back-pressure on Rotating Detonation Combustor Operation.” AIAA SCITECH 2022 Forum. 2022.

Chacon, F., A. D. Feleo, and M. Gamba. “Secondary waves dynamics and their impact on detonation structure in rotating detonation combustors.” Shock Waves 31.7 (2021): 675-702.

Feleo, Alexander, Joshua Shepard, and Mirko Gamba. “Elevated Inlet Temperature Effects on the Operation of a Rotating Detonation Combustor.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2021 Forum. 2021.

Feleo, Alexander, Joshua Shepard, and Mirko Gamba. “Prediction of Detonation-Induced Disturbances Propagating Upstream into Inlets of Rotating Detonation Combustors.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2021 Forum. 2021.

Feleo, Alexander, Logan W. White, and Mirko Gamba. “Effects of CO2 Diluent on Rotating Detonation Combustor Operation.” AIAA Scitech 2021 Forum. 2021.

Shepard, Joshua, Alexander Feleo, and Mirko Gamba. “Effects of Inlet Area Ratio on Operability of an Axial Air Inlet Rotating Detonation Combustor.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2021 Forum. 2021.

Feleo, Alexander, Fabian Chacon, and Mirko Gamba. “Uncertainties in Thrust and EAP Measurements of a Rotating Detonation Combustor with Axial Air Inlet.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2020 Forum. 2020.

Chacon, Fabian, and Mirko Gamba. “Detonation wave dynamics in a rotating detonation engine.” AIAA Scitech 2019 Forum. 2019.

Chacon, Fabian, and Mirko Gamba. “Study of parasitic combustion in an optically accessible continuous wave rotating detonation engine.” AIAA Scitech 2019 Forum. 2019. (Best Paper Award)

Chacon, Fabian, Alexander Feleo, and Mirko Gamba. “Impact of Inlet Area Ratio on the Operation of an Axial Air Inlet Configuration Rotating Detonation Combustor.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2019 Forum. 2019.

Feleo, Alexander, et al. “Evaluation of oh emission for determining operation of a rotating detonation engine.” AIAA Scitech 2019 Forum. 2019.

Feleo, Alexander, Fabian Chacon, and Mirko Gamba. “Effects of Heat Release Distribution on Detonation Properties in a H2/Air Rotating Detonation Combustor from OH* Chemiluminesence.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2019 Forum. 2019.

Chacon, Fabian, and Mirko Gamba. “OH PLIF visualization of an optically accessible rotating detonation combustor.” AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2019 Forum. 2019.

Chacon, Fabian, and Mirko Gamba. “Development of an optically accessible continuous wave rotating detonation engine.” 2018 Joint Propulsion Conference. 2018.

Chacon, Fabian, James Duvall, and Mirko Gamba. “Evaluation of pressure rise and oscillation in a rotating detonation engine.” 2018 AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting. 2018.

Duvall, James, et al. “Study of the effects of various injection geometries on the operation of a rotating detonation engine.” 2018 AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting. 2018.