Reaction Engines has successfully tested its innovative precooler at airflow temperature conditions representing Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, marking a significant milestone in the development of its SABRE™ engine and paving the way for a revolution in hypersonic flight and space access.
The precooler heat exchanger is a vital component of Reaction Engines’ revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine and is an enabling technology for other precooled propulsion systems and a range of commercial applications.
This ground-based test achieved the highest temperature objective of the Company’s HTX testing program and took place at its specially constructed unique facility at the Colorado Air and Space Port, United States.
During the latest series of tests, Reaction Engines’ unique precooler successfully quenched airflow temperatures in excess of 1,000°C (~1,800°F) in less than 1/20th of a second.
This test shows the precooler’s can successfully cool airflow at speeds significantly in excess of the operational limit of any jet-engine powered aircraft in history. Mach 5 is more than twice as fast as the cruising speed of Concorde and over 50% faster than the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft – the world’s fastest jet-engine powered aircraft.
This most recent test builds upon the success of previous HTX hot tests undertaken in April which saw the precooler successfully operate at temperatures of 420ᵒC (~788ᵒF) – matching the thermal conditions corresponding to Mach 3.3 flight.
Commenting, Mark Thomas, Chief Executive, Reaction Engines, said:
“This is a major moment in the development of a breakthrough aerospace technology which has seen Reaction Engines’ precooler tested at Mach 5 airflow temperature conditions, smashing through previous achievements at Mach 3.3 temperatures and paving the way for hypersonic flight. In addition to its use in our SABRE class of air-breathing rocket engines, there are numerous exciting commercial applications for our precooler technology, which delivers world-leading heat transfer capabilities at low weight and compact size, and we are seeing significant interest from a range of potential customers and technology partners.”
Reaction Engines’ patented pre-cooler heat exchanger has the potential to be used in a wide range of commercial thermal management applications. These include the development of precooled systems that would significantly enhance the performance of existing jet engine technology, along with applications in automotive, aerospace, energy and industrial processes.
The major testing milestone is the culmination of 30 years of engineering innovation since Reaction Engines was founded in 1989 by three propulsion engineers from Rolls-Royce, Alan Bond, Richard Varvill and John Scott-Scott.