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Design development, manufacture and test of a miniature rotating detonation engine
Group Members
Lennie Chew, Andre Kljajic, James Magson, Tan Koon Yew, Daniel Wood
Dr Ralf Deiterding, Dr Charlie Ryan
The aim of this project was to redesign, manufacture and test the UK’s first miniature rotating detonation engine (MRDE). This was a continuation of a previous group design project which was unable to test the engine. The design process involved the redesign of the propellant delivery system (PDS), pre-detonator, combustion chamber and the experimental procedure and control.

Typically, propulsion systems have employed constant pressure heat addition as a mode of combustion. Rotating detonation engines (RDEs) offer more efficient thermodynamic cycles by utilising pressure gain combustion, which can increase efficiency by over 15%. This has promising applications for rocket, ramjet and turbojet engines. A typical RDE consists of a pre-detonator and a combustion chamber.

A literature review was conducted to understand the previous project and current research into RDEs. The pre-detonator was remanufactured to be more suitable for testing, and simulations were conducted to predict the pressure produced by the detonation wave. The annular combustion chamber was remanufactured to account for a change in fuel from acetylene to ethylene, and a new fuel injection ring was also required. The PDS was redesigned and installed to optimise the trade-off between cost and the operational limits. A series of experimental control systems were developed using systems engineering software to control the pressure transducer, spark plug, mass flow meters and solenoid valves.

Cold gas tests were performed on the engine to identify leaks and verify the operating conditions of the PDS. The pre-detonator was tested and a detonation wave was successfully measured.
Exploded view of miniature rotating detonation engine (MRDE).
MRDE mounted to test rig.
MRDE predetonator ignition.
Miniature rotating detonation engine