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(Hartford Courant)   Pratt & Whitney developing new form of propulsion; "pulse detonation," that will either improve turbine engines, or make them obsolete   ( divider line
    More: Cool  
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16718 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Nov 2003 at 6:58 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

59 Comments     (+0 »)

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2003-11-30 03:26:10 PM  
Kids, that's not the headline -- It's the article! Well the one you see if you aren't subscribed to the Tribune service...
2003-11-30 03:34:40 PM  
Here's assloads of layman-level detail, thanks to a PopSci article from a few months back. It covers Pratt&Whitney's attempt, and also what GE's up to in the same field.
2003-11-30 07:03:22 PM  
Yeah, but let's see they make (if it works), or better yet, the ticket prices.
2003-11-30 07:06:13 PM  
Hey! I read the whole article!
2003-11-30 07:06:49 PM  
I'm kind of partial to impulse engines, but never in spacedock. Thrusters only, baby.
2003-11-30 07:07:16 PM  
Not impulse detonation?
[image from too old to be available]
2003-11-30 07:07:16 PM  
Mach 4 would be nice, JFK to LHR in under two hours but without *major* advances in airframe design we still won't be able to fly it over land at anything near that speed.

We need to figure out how to supress or minimize the sonic boom so that we don't have to retrofit everyone's house with plexiglass!
2003-11-30 07:07:31 PM  
This is the same thing all those groom lake stories have been about with the donut contrails.
2003-11-30 07:08:04 PM  
Pulse engines have been around for ages. Google on them and you'll find all kinds of people who've made their own.

One problem with them is they're LOUD. A set of pulse engines powerful enough to push a go-cart around can be heard for a few miles around, and require really good ear protection within a few hundred feet.
2003-11-30 07:08:16 PM  
Here's the full Hartford Courant article; use cpunks/cpunks as your username/password if you don't already have one. (This works just about everywhere that requires free registration.)
2003-11-30 07:14:20 PM  
Don't forget option #3: fail miserably.
2003-11-30 07:23:42 PM  
I don't know how any of that shiat works, I just take a valium and hope for the best.
2003-11-30 07:23:51 PM  
Thats old news, I used to read articles 10 years back about Skunk works testing them around Area 51. Reason they suspected this is because of the peculiar smoke trails they leave behind. Look like something a "jetsons" car would emmit.
2003-11-30 07:28:37 PM  
Such a revolution, though far from guaranteed, would be fairly typical amid the leaps and bounds taken in the past century.

Well if this followed Moore's Law we would be able to fly JFK to LAX in one million-billionth of a second, so there.

/got nothing, this article blows
2003-11-30 07:31:33 PM  
One of my thermodynamics professors was leading a team effort by 3 universities to do some development on these things. He was a really smart guy, took us through some of the calculations for them as part of class exercises and even brought in some prototypes, though I never got to see them working. He said there is a lot of potential in them but still a lot of work to be done. Interesting stuff for sure.
2003-11-30 07:33:51 PM  
You guys that are saying this is old are thinking of the pulse jet engine, which was used in the Nazi V1 rockets of WW2. The article claims pulse detonation is a new form of propulsion.

Pulse detonation != Pulse jet
2003-11-30 07:34:29 PM  
MMM "donuts-on-a-rope" was the term du jour back then. If civilians are now working on this, and expect to have it ready in 20 years, one can only wonder what the Skunk Works have come up with now..
2003-11-30 07:40:06 PM  
FF, I was going to point out that! Now I 've got nothing.
/Junkyard Wars rules
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2003-11-30 07:45:54 PM  
Pulsed combustion went out of style in 1945 when the last V-1 bases were overrun. I guess it's like a fashion trend; wait long enough and it comes back. (No, I didn't read the article. I hope it's about something more modern and exciting than the Germans used 60 years ago.)
2003-11-30 07:48:52 PM  
Mach 4 would be nice, JFK to LHR in under two hours but without *major* advances in airframe design we still won't be able to fly it over land at anything near that speed.

We need to figure out how to supress or minimize the sonic boom so that we don't have to retrofit everyone's house with plexiglass!

DARPA's already working on it.

Linky Linky
or, if html fails...
2003-11-30 07:49:01 PM  
um ... isn't this what the conspiracy nuts have been saying the government has been developing for the last 10 years? The Aurora, I think, is the plane that's supposed to have one.
2003-11-30 07:50:11 PM  
Isn't the Aurora supposed to powered by one of these?
2003-11-30 07:50:39 PM  
I just hope they can make it up to 88 miles per hour in time....
2003-11-30 07:50:43 PM  
I actually saw a guy talk about development on this not too long ago. He said that the donuts-on-a-rope wasn't made by pulse detonation. My combustion prof said differently though...

Pulse jet engines have been around for a long time, but pulse detonation is just now becoming popular. They are very much similar to each other in that they basically involve filling a tube with gas then igniting it. The difference is that pulse jets only deflagrate, which is a low speed burning action. Pulse detonation detonates (obviously!), which means that there's a shockwave going through the gas at very high speeds, giving higher thrust. It's not extremely stable though, so the main difficulty is getting the pressures and fuel mixtures and tube geometries just right for it to work.
2003-11-30 07:53:43 PM  
Sounds like a variation on the Ramjet - the Buzz-bomb V rockets used by the *enemy* in WW2..

Now this song is going over and over in my head..

Cue organ!

RogerRamjet is our hero Hero of our Nation..
2003-11-30 07:54:43 PM  
Attention terrorists:

Your weapons systems are about to be upgraded.
2003-11-30 07:58:48 PM  
Flying at Mach 4 hasn't been a propulsion problem since the 1950s. Staying at Mach 4 is a heating problem.

PDEs have been in labs for about 15 years now. The performance gains are minimal; they fill a gap between ramjets and scramjets, that's all.

If you want to see something truly revolutionary that's more deserving of research, look at nuclear pulse detonation
2003-11-30 07:59:56 PM  
Every time you pulse detonate God kills a kitten.
2003-11-30 08:00:07 PM  
Link didn't work! Trying again...
2003-11-30 08:02:17 PM  
Freeman Dyson is laughing at me from beyond the grave.
2003-11-30 08:10:09 PM  
I've read arcticles about this years ago. They were prototype crafts back then, this is hardly "new".

General public knowledge system, BAH!
2003-11-30 08:14:03 PM  
shameless goat-farker : Yeah, just wait for the US to shoot\crash there own top secret aircrafts during warfare again. You guys are good at war, even better at friendly-fire.
2003-11-30 08:17:24 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

2003-11-30 09:10:19 PM  

ramjet != pulsejet

Ramjets burn fuel continuosly like a turbojet but use the speed of the incoming air to compress the air and fuel rather than a mechanical turbocompressor. Ramjets are difficult to start below 500 MPH.

2003-11-30 09:36:59 PM  
its a trap?
2003-11-30 10:59:46 PM  
jbrjake: Good link, before reading that I would have thought you went to a porn site to find deflagration.
2003-11-30 11:29:00 PM  
Anyone else think of Steely Dan right away? Ah, well, I'll sing it for you...

Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
Well by seventy-six we'll be A.O.K.

What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free
2003-11-30 11:32:24 PM  

I detonate pulses after a night of cheap beer & Mexican food.

/got nuthin', as usual

2003-11-30 11:33:47 PM

Someone say Nuclear Pulse Propulsion? Could have gone to Mars in the 70's....ah well.
2003-11-30 11:38:14 PM  
Thanks for the additional links. I thought these guys were reinventing the V-1 until I read those.
2003-11-30 11:52:24 PM  
That's actually Donald Fagen (I.G.Y.) not Steely Dan.
2003-11-30 11:58:12 PM  
I like the part where it tells you what impulse detonation is, and how it would improve current jet engines.
2003-12-01 12:33:06 AM  
This sounds more like a bomb to me but then again I'm too lazy to read the article.
2003-12-01 01:05:24 AM  
*cough*already exists*cough*

*insertconspiracy/blackprojects* Auroa Project - new spy plane theorized to do about Mach 13 (at sub orbital altitudes). Supposedly uses a pulse engine as described.

Still spiffy cool though.
2003-12-01 01:21:58 AM  
Yeah, as sitesmithscott said, that IS what the Aurora uses. The peculiar con trail that it leaves is described as "Doughnuts on a rope", and a pilot in Texas saw them in the sky, went and hopped in the plane, and videotaped them out the window. DEFINITELY nothing normal making them.

"They" say the Aurora (no, not the car from Olds), can make Mach 10.
2003-12-01 02:24:28 AM  
Aurora supposedly does mach 13, based on timing the seismic sensors between the U.S. and England (the old testing route it allegedly flew).

Or maybe that wasn't a Black Project, just a real regular earthquake.

... and Groom Lake.. they're just guarding a bunch of industrial waste out there, that's all, nothing to see, these aren't the droids you're look for...

2003-12-01 02:57:52 AM  
If anyone saw Junkyard Wars this week, a pulse jet is exactly what one of the teams built. It's about as simple a rocket engine as you can make - pump fuel into combustion chamber, ignite with spark, repeat.

Very loud, but also very cool. I'm thinking of building one myself to tinker with.

The P&W version was highlighted a while ago, and is much fancier, bringing the pulse-speed up to almost a continious detonation and produces much more power. Apparently they've already got prototypes which are extremely small, but produce massive thrust.
2003-12-01 04:15:07 AM  
So essentially, it's a repeated series of explosiong.

Pretty much like a fart?

I heard Aurora can do over mach 10 using this thing. Imagine tearing through the sky at that speed! I bet it gets hot in that cockpit!
2003-12-01 04:59:38 AM  
Just think, when the US military get hypersonic bombers based on home turf that can strike anywhere in the world within minutes, then they wont need to suck up to all those nasty little dictatorships to get airbases anymore.
2003-12-01 08:27:14 AM  
A guy I know ( my good friend's brother ) flies airlift med patient planes somewhere out of Arizona to the surrounding states. He says the he sees the pulse trails all over Nevada but has never seen the jet leaving them, I would imagine he's flying way too low anyway. Old news to pilots who fly in the South West US from the sound of it. It sounds like, just like you'd imagine, any inquiries by commercial or private pilots is replied with these aren't the droids you're looking for.

"You must be imagining things, those engines aren't possible with our current level of technology."
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