GE Aerospace unveils detonation-driven hypersonic propulsion technology

GE Aerospace

GE Aerospace has revealed advancements in its hypersonics program at its Research Center in Niskayuna, showcasing what is believed to be a world-first hypersonic dual-mode ramjet (DMRJ) rig test with rotating detonation combustion (RDC) in a supersonic flow stream 

The milestone comes as part of a broader portfolio of technology programs from GE Aerospace, including advancements in high-temperature materials and electronics. It also leverages technology acquired through the integration of Innoveering, acquired in June 2023. 

“As the aerospace sector sets its sight on the future of hypersonics, GE Aerospace is well positioned with the right capabilities, experience, and scale to be a leader in driving new developments for our customers,” Amy Gowder, President and CEO of GE Aerospace Defense & Systems, claimed in a press release. 

A typical compressed air DMRJ propulsion system can only begin operating when the vehicle reaches supersonic speeds above Mach 3. However, the RDC allows higher thrust to be generated more efficiently, for an overall smaller engine size and weight, by burning fuel through detonation waves instead of the standard combustion systems that power conventional jet aircraft engines. 

GE Aerospace hopes to develop an RDC-enabled DMRJ capable of operating at lower Mach numbers, enhancing efficiency and extending the operational range of flight vehicles. The development of a full-scale demonstrator is slated for 2024. 

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