TechGE Aerospace tests groundbreaking jet engine, DMRJ: An innovation to propel hypersonic vehicles at 4,000 mph

GE Aerospace tests groundbreaking jet engine, DMRJ: An innovation to propel hypersonic vehicles at 4,000 mph

Visualization of a hypersonic propulsion missile
Visualization of a hypersonic propulsion missile
Images source: © Public domain | USAF

8:54 AM EST, December 20, 2023

Hypersonic vehicles currently under development make use of jet propulsion systems. This technique allows projectiles or future aircraft to reach high speeds, but the jet drive comes with serious limitations.

One significant limitation is the vehicle's need to reach a certain high speed before the airflow can start the jet engine.

Additionally, jet engines display limited thrust adjustment capabilities. They can push a missile or aircraft to an extremely high speed and maintain it, but this sacrifices any potential for acceleration and deceleration. This is why the propulsion system of the world's fastest production aircraft - the SR-71 Blackbird - was an unusual mixture of a turbojet and a ramjet.

Overview of the New DMRJ Engine

GE Aerospace seems to have overcome these limitations with their tested DMRJ (Dual-Mode Ramjet) engine. The manufacturer describes it as "a combination of a jet engine and a ramjet with a supersonic combustion chamber, which employs a rotary detonation".

The newly designed engine is expected to reach speeds of around 4,000 mph, but the key breakthrough lies not so much in the maximum speed but more in the ability to adjust it smoothly and repeatedly.

The Future of Hypersonic Vehicle Propulsion

Combined with the structural simplicity of a jet propulsion system - one that lacks moving parts - this characteristic allows for the construction of a particularly efficient and light engine. It could power not only various types of projectiles but also high-speed airplanes. This is an accomplishment that countries like Russia and China have not yet achieved, despite their advanced work on hypersonic vehicles.

GE Aerospace underscores the progress of their work: a successful test conducted on a model is expected to be replicated on a full-sized version of the new engine by 2024.

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