Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences successfully tested a prototype of a new generation engine in a wind tunnel, which immediately accelerated to nine speeds of sound. And this is less than half of its potential – according to calculations, with such a power plant, planes will be able to fly at speeds of Mach 16, which will make it easy to ascend into near space and reach any point on the planet in a matter of frequent. The technology is called SODRAMJET, an abbreviation for oblique shock wave ramjet.
The emergence of SODRAMJET was the result of an attempt to solve one of the fundamental problems in the development of ramjet jet engines. To reduce the weight of the aircraft, the designers decided to remove the very heavy oxygen canister and scoop gas directly from the surrounding air. However, it quickly became clear that achieving a uniform flow of oxygen into the combustion chamber is very problematic. And the main enemy of the engineers was the shock waves arising at super speeds, which threatened to destroy the engine.
Chinese scientists, led by Jiang Zonglin, implemented what NASA had invented back in the 1980s, but then the theory did not go beyond theory. They managed to make those same shock waves work in unison with the combustion chamber and push oxygen into it at hypersonic speed. The details of the process were not disclosed, but as they write in the media, “the faster the engine runs, the more efficiently the main hydrogen fuel is burned.”
The new engine will be much smaller and lighter than the existing scramjet engines, and therefore flying with it across half the world without refueling looks quite real. But this is clearly not a prospect for the near future, the prototype only demonstrates the efficiency of the technology. The appearance of a full-fledged aircraft SODRAMJET engine in China has not yet been promised, but they note that the world has entered the era of hypersonic flights, so all such new products will appear more.