Reaction Engines Ltd

United Kingdom

Reaction Engines Ltd

United Kingdom
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News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

The construction of a new rocket test facility in the UK could hasten the development of space planes able to take off and land from terrestrial space-ports and hypersonic aircraft that could slash international travel times. The facility, which is being built by Oxfordshire rocketry specialist Reaction Engines, will be used to carry out the first ground tests of the firm’s SABRE engine, and will pave the way for flight tests of this potentially game-changing propulsion technology. SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) is an advanced rocket engine able to “breath air” from the atmosphere as well as operate in a pure rocket mode. The concept is claimed to offer a significant reduction in propellant consumption and weight compared to conventional rocket engines that have to carry their own oxygen. According to its developers the technology could provide thrust from standstill on the runway to speeds above five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere, before transitioning to a rocket mode of operation, allowing spaceflight at up to orbital velocity (equivalent to twenty five times the speed of sound). The test facility at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, will enable Reaction Engines to test critical subsystems along with the testing of a SABRE engine core, which will commence in 2020. The company has already successfully undertaken testing of the engine’s pre-cooler and thrust chamber technologies, and will undertake further ground-based high-temperature testing of the pre-cooler early in 2018. Commenting on the construction of the new facility Reaction Engines’ CEO Mark Thomas said: “This is another exciting step forward in development of Reaction Engines’ SABRE engine and a visible demonstration of the UK’s commitment to the programme.  I look forward to seeing this unique facility take shape and commencing our core engine testing, which will be a defining moment for aerospace.” Alongside applications as the propulsion systems for next generation orbital launch craft and hypersonic aircraft, the company is also eyeing applications of its heat exchanger technology for thermal management across a range of industries including aerospace, motorsport and the energy sector. The firm has received significant public and private funding to develop its technology, including a £60m package from the UK government, and substantial investment from BAE Systems, which acquired a 20 per cent stake in the company in 2015.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 2.44M | Year: 2011

This research is about simulating and designing the engineering flow systems that will form a major part of the responses to health, transportation, energy and climate challenges that the world faces over the next 40 years.The United Nations estimates that by 2050 four billion people in 48 countries will lack sufficient water. But 97 percent of the water on the planet is saltwater, and much of the remaining freshwater is frozen in glaciers or the polar ice caps. If the glaciers in the polar regions continue to melt, as expected, the supply of freshwater may actually decrease: freshwater from the melting glaciers will mingle with saltwater in the oceans and become too salty to drink, and rising sea levels will contaminate freshwater sources along coastal regions. Technologies for large-scale purification of seawater or other contaminated water to make it drinkable are therefore urgently needed.At the same time, figures from the US Energy Information Administration project an average growth rate of 2.7 percent per year for transportation energy use in non-OECD countries to 2030 - this is 8 times higher than the projected rate for OECD countries. Chinas passenger transportation energy use per capita alone is projected to triple over this period, and Indias to double. Improving the fuel efficiency of air and marine transport is a strategic priority for governments and companies around the world, and will have the added benefit of reducing emissions and helping address climate change. Micro and nano scale engineering presents an important opportunity to help meet these pressing challenges. For example, early indications are that membranes of carbon nanotubes have remarkable properties in filtering salt ions and other contaminants from water. Also, controlling the turbulent drag on aircraft and ship hulls, which is a major inefficiency in modern transportation, may be achievable by embedding micro systems and/or nano structures over the vehicles surface.This cross-disciplinary research programme targets the unconventional fluid dynamics that is key to innovating in these visionary applications. The work is strongly supported by 9 external partners, ranging from large multinational companies to SMEs and public advisory bodies, and brings together established research groups from two major UK universities and a national research institute. We will deliver a comprehensive new technique for simulating mixed equilibrium/non-equilibrium fluid dynamics at the nano and micro scale, and deploy it on three important technical challenges that span the range of economic and societal impact, from energy to healthcare. These are drag reduction in aerospace, applications of super-hydrophobic surfaces to marine transport, and water desalination / purification. In this research we aim to:- accurately predict the performance of the proposed technologies;- optimise their design within realistic engineering parameters;- propose new designs which exploit flow behaviour at this scale for technological impact.The research partnership leading this Programme has flourished over 10 years into an international driver for understanding these kinds of thermodynamically non-equilibrium flows, attracting substantial joint funding and producing co-authored research publications. The partnership is poised to effect the step-change in non-equilibrium flow simulation capabilities that is needed to make new technologies at the micro and nano scale practicable, beyond any currently conceived.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd. | Date: 2014-06-05

A duct for forming a generally annular passage such as an inlet to a turbine, the duct having a plurality of tubes angularly spaced from one another and distributed around an axis.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd. | Date: 2014-06-05

A turbomachine apparatus for driving a compressor is disclosed. The turbomachine apparatus contains at least one rotor stage and at least one retaining element. The at least one rotor stage contains a plurality of blades and is configured to rotate about an axis. The at least one retaining element is configured to retain the at least one rotor stage with the blades thereof at least partly or wholly in radial compression during rotation thereof.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd | Date: 2014-06-05

The present disclosure relates to an engine having two modes of operationair breathing and rocketthat may be used in aerospace applications such as in an aircraft, flying machine, or aerospace vehicle. The engines efficiency can be maximized by using a precooler arrangement to cool intake air in air breathing mode using cold fuel used for the rocket mode. By introducing the precooler and certain other engine cycle components, and arranging and operating them as described, problems such as those associated with higher fuel and weight requirements and frost formation can be alleviated.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd | Date: 2014-06-05

A rotational machine such as a turbocompressor has a fluid recovery system for recovering leaked working fluid such as gaseous helium in a helium circuit which has leaked past a shaft seal, a purifier being provided for removing contaminants from the working fluid, and turbocompressor may have one fluid such as helium or hydrogen working through one turbo component such as a turbine thereof and a second working fluid such as air or helium working through a second turbo component such as a compressor thereof, the rotational machine being installable in an engine of a flying machine.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd | Date: 2014-06-05

A heat exchanger which may be used in an engine, such as a vehicle engine for an aircraft or orbital launch vehicle. is provided. The heat exchanger may be configured as generally drum-shaped with a multitude of spiral sections, each containing numerous small diameter tubes. The spiral sections may spiral inside one another. The heat exchanger may include a support structure with a plurality of mutually axially spaced hoop supports, and may incorporate an intermediate header. The heat exchanger may incorporate recycling of methanol or other antifreeze used to prevent blocking of the heat exchanger due to frost or ice formation.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd | Date: 2014-06-05

A nozzle arrangement for an engine that is operable in both an air-breathing mode, in which the engine combusts air taken in from atmosphere with hydrogen from a store thereof, and in a rocket mode, in which the engine combusts oxygen from a store thereof with hydrogen from the store thereof. The nozzle arrangement may include a rocket combustion chamber fluidly coupled by a rocket throat to a rocket nozzle. The rocket nozzle includes a first portion adjacent the rocket throat and a second portion remote from the rocket throat and axially moveable relative to the first portion between a rocket position in which they form a substantially contiguous rocket nozzle and an air-breathing position in which they overlap to define an annular throat therebetween. The nozzle arrangement may also include at least one air-breathing combustion chamber arranged to be fluidly coupled to the annular throat when the first and second portions of the nozzle are in the air-breathing position.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd | Date: 2014-06-05

The present disclosure relates to an engine having two modes of operationair breathing and rocketthat may be used in aerospace applications such as in an aircraft, flying machine, or aerospace vehicle. The engines efficiency can be maximized by using a precooler arrangement to cool intake air in air breathing mode using cold fuel delivery systems used for the rocket mode. By introducing the precooler and certain other engine cycle components, and arranging and operating them as described, problems such as those associated with higher fuel and weight requirements and frost formation can be alleviated.


Patent
Reaction Engines Ltd | Date: 2014-06-05

The invention relates to a mounting assembly for a rocket nozzle for an engine that may be operable in rocket mode, in which the engine combusts stored oxygen and hydrogen, or in air-breathing mode, in which the engine combusts air from the atmosphere and stored hydrogen. A plurality of ducts and pipes are connected to the nozzle to supply fuel and other fluids. As it is desirable to allow the nozzle to pivot, the mounting assembly may include flexible couplings on the ducts and pipes about selected pivot points allowing the desired freedom of motion. The flexible couplings are designed to withstand various pressure forces in the rocket/aircraft flight environment, and may be composed of spaced annular elements, wherein a partial toroid element connects consecutive pairs of annular elements.

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