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Mach 5 aircraft technology | The Edge

But as manufacturing techniques evolve and improve there is still one component that even the largest aircraft manufacturers admit is crucial to the future of the industry engines we have ever-more fuel-efficient aircraft and that counts for the airlines obviously for the probability of the airlines which is usually very shallow It is no surprise then that engine industry leaders from GE to Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are all vying for business from plane manufacturers but the allure of a multi-million dollar contract has also attracted some newcomers looking to propel the industry forward in some rather innovative ways This is Scimitar, a prototype jet engine from UK-based group Reaction Engines Its developers say the experimental apparatus can extend the speed the power and the range of existing systems by up to 5 times the speed of sound all by tackling the biggest barrier to a new generation of ultra-fast aircraft engines: heat The fundamentals of jet engine technology haven’t changed much from the original 1930s design air is drawn into the front of the jet where it’s compressed mixed with a fuel like high octane kerosene and ignited but in many cases engine temperatures can reach up to 2,000 degrees Celsius something which pushes the structural integrity of the aircraft to its limits Scimitar is designed to change all of that We are in the process of testing a very very important development in aerospace propulsion which is a pre-cooler a device for cooling the air entering the high speed engine so that the engine can continue to operate pretty much as normal This means that we’re going to be able to fly at speeds of Mach 5 pretty easily in the future The company is now engaged in a fifty-percent EU-funded project called LAPCAT Long-term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies a study designed to examine the propulsion concepts and technologies required to create a hypersonic aircraft with a flight range near to 20 thousand kilometers It enables very high speed terrestrial aircraft so for example a aircraft carrying 300 passengers could go from Europe to Australia in about four hours, four and a half hours, we’re looking at a revolution in transportation equivilant to the jet engine With partnerships to commercialize the technology underway the program has even given birth to a bigger development a synergistic air-breathing rocket engine or SABRE for short This innovative concept engine promises to propel the ultimate flight a single-stage earth to orbit craft designed for space travel But what if heat and fossil fuels could be removed from an engine’s equation altogether? Researchers from MIT are working on developing technology they hope will completely rethink aviation propulsion altogether This is an Ion thruster it might look like something from science fiction and it’s not necessarily far from it the thruster operates using a ring of magnets to electrically charge atoms within an engine’s combustion chamber propelling the craft forward but charging these atoms requires large amounts of electricity with most organizations considering it unviable for terrestrial aircraft until now In 2013 MIT found ionic thrusters may be a far more efficient source of propulsion than conventional jet engines the MIT team says there’s still a lot of work needed to figure out the best way to store the voltage required for ionic thrusters but the hope is one day they might just be turning science fiction into science fact

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