That's right, 6.5 Mach from a 150-pound engine. Try that with your 300-plus-pound Lycoming ... then again, don't. Airplanes of the future could be powered with engines derived from the hypersonic scramjet that recently completed a series of successful ground tests at 6.5 Mach. "The engine performed exceptionally well," program manager Joaquin Castro said in a news release Monday. Weighing less than 150 pounds, the P&W burned standard JP-7 hydrocarbon fuel, which it uses in an "endothermic/regeneratively cooled cycle." Translation: the fuel cools the engines interior walls before being introduced to the combustion chamber (sounds familiar, doesn't it?). It seems that one of the only things the workings of your engine and Pratt & Whitney's GDE-1 have in common is that they use fuel to help cool internal parts. During numerous runs at Mach 4.5 and Mach 6.5, the demo engine reliably produced significant net positive thrust, which demonstrates the ability to efficiently burn fuel and accelerate a vehicle at these speeds, the news release said. "Performance exceeded Mach 6.5 objectives and met Mach 4.5 requirements," Castro said. Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion and U.S. Air Force researchers ran the tests as part of the Hypersonic Technology (HyTech) Program. The testing will enter a new phase next year, using a new engine with fully integrated control hardware and software.
...While Plastics Mold Your Engine's Future
New engine designs are intriguing, but sometimes it's new materials that drive technological advances. Superior Air Parts, of Coppell, Texas, announced this week it has successfully completed testing of its new composite sump/induction system built with Ryton, a resin product made by Chevron Phillips. The new Ryton sump will reduce the weight of the XP-360 Engine (TM) by eight pounds (half the weight of the old-style aluminum sump), Superior said in a news release. Ryton is a polyphenylene sulfide resin product and provides a lighter-weight alternative to metals that are resistant to corrosion and all fluids associated with piston engines, the company said. "The new Ryton sump is another example of our commitment to bring the latest technology to the general and sport aviation market," said Tim Archer, Superior's senior VP. Superior Air Parts is the world's largest manufacturer of FAA-approved replacement parts for Lycoming and Continental aircraft engines.