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Proceedings Paper

Optical engine initiation: multiple compartment applications
Author(s): Jeffrey H. Hunt
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Paper Abstract

Modern day propulsion systems are used in aerospace applications for different purposes. The aerospace industry typically requires propulsion systems to operate in a rocket mode in order to drive large boost vehicles. The defense industry generally requires propulsion systems to operate in an air-breathing mode in order to drive missiles. A mixed system could use an air-breathing first stage and a rocket-mode upper stage for space access. Thus, propulsion systems can be used for high mass payloads and where the payload is dominated by the fuel/oxidizer mass being used by the propulsion system. The pulse detonation wave engine (PDWE) uses an alternative type of detonation cycle to achieve the same propulsion results. The primary component of the PDWE is the combustion chamber (or detonation tube). The PDWE represents an attractive propulsion source since its engine cycle is thermodynamically closest to that of a constant volume reaction. This characteristic leads to the inference that a maximum of the potential energy of the PDWE is put into thrust and not into flow work. Consequently, the volume must be increased. The technical community has increasingly adopted the alternative choice of increasing total volume by designing the engine to include a set of banks of smaller combustion chambers. This technique increases the complexity of the ignition subsystem because the inter-chamber timing must be considered. Current approaches to igniting the PDWE have involved separate shock or blast wave initiators and chemical additives designed to enhance detonatibility. An optical ignition subsystem generates a series of optical pulses, where the optical pulses ignite the fuel/oxidizer mixture such that the chambers detonate in a desired order. The detonation system also has an optical transport subsystem for transporting the optical pulses from the optical ignition subsystem to the chambers. The use of optical ignition and transport provides a non-toxic, small, lightweight, precisely controlled detonation system.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 May 2009
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7314, Photonics in the Transportation Industry: Auto to Aerospace II, 73140E (5 May 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.821741
Show Author Affiliations
Jeffrey H. Hunt, The Boeing Co. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7314:
Photonics in the Transportation Industry: Auto to Aerospace II
Alex A. Kazemi; Bernard C. Kress, Editor(s)

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