British engineers developing a new propulsion system say their technology has passed another key milestone.
The airborne Saber airborne missile engine is designed to move spacecraft in orbit and take aircraft around the world in just a few hours.
The work should be managed by very high temperature air flow, and Reaction Engines Ltd has developed a heat exchanger for this purpose.
This key element has just shown an impressive level of performance.
It has demonstrated the ability to manage simulated flight conditions at more than three times the speed of sound.
This has been done by successfully extinguishing the 420C of the gas flow in less than 1/20 second.
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The REL group is convinced that its "cooler" technology can now show the same performance in conditions that simulate flying above five times the speed of the sound, or Mach 5.
This would mean quickly throwing energy into a 1000 degree airflow.
"We are now able to prove many of the claims we have made as a business, supported by high-quality data," BBC News CEO Mark Thomas said.
"In this latest experiment, we have almost immediately transferred 1.5 megawatts of thermal energy – equivalent to 1,000 homes of" heat energy ".
The test was conducted in a special operation at the aerospace and space port of Colorado, USA.
The saber can be considered a jumper between a jet engine and a rocket engine.
At low speeds and at a low altitude, they would behave like a jet, burning their fuel into the air stream drawn from the atmosphere.
At high speeds and at a high altitude, then it would go to full rocket driving, combining fuel with a small amount of oxygen that the car carried in the air.
Early breathing in the air would bring significant weight savings and would allow, for example, the space plane to go straight into the orbit, without denying the levels of propellant fuel, such as rockets.
But the concept brings with it a tremendous heat challenge.
The faster the air flow into the suction of the engine during high-speed climbs, the higher the temperature.
And the heat would even increase if the flow slowed down and compressed before entering the combustion chambers.
Such conditions would normally melt the engine interior.
Sabre's pre-cooler tries to solve this problem efficiently and quickly by extracting the heat by first leaking the inlet gases through a tightly packed set of fine pipes. This tube is fed with cold helium.
In 2012, REL placed a pre-cooler in front of the jet engine and extracted air from the environment through a heat exchanger. The gas flow immediately fell to minus-150C.
The company turned the device, putting a jet engine out of the old F-4 Phantom bomber hunter in front of the pre-cooler to bring hot gases directly through the pipe line.
The completed Colorado experiment replicates the thermal conditions that correspond to the flight of 3.3 Maha, which is the record speed used by the American spy plane SR-71 Blackbird. It is important, however, that the refrigerator has extracted all the heat.
"This technology is widely used, not only in the immediate, apparent domain of fast flights, but in the entire aviation industry in general and in more commercial applications – where there is a significant challenge to managing heat and looking for ultra-light, miniature high performance solutions," he said. Thomas.
Colorado tests continue. Meanwhile, in England, REL advances to a demonstration of the core engine, which is expected to start next year.
This central combustion section has recently undergone a preliminary review of the project under the aegis of a propulsion specialist at the European Space Agency. Esa was issued by the British government to act as a technical auditor of the project.
Oxfordshire develops Saber with the support of BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing. Everyone is eager to see a long-term improvement of the engine concept.