The Long E-Z aircraft, powered by the pulsed detonation engine, makes its history-making flight Jan. 31 at Mohave, Calif. Soon it will be on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
I was familiar with the concept of the pulsed detonation engine but had no idea that a project was underway. This was a proof of concept aircraft. The engine was built with off-the-shelf automotive parts.
What makes the PDE so unique is instead of burning fuel, called deflagration, to get propulsion, air and fuel are mixed, ignited and detonated in controlled explosions inside open-ended tubes that look like exhaust pipes. When detonation moves through the tubes, it creates a supersonic shockwave that continually pulses and generates thrust.
The increased thrust could be capable of powering future aircraft up to speeds of Mach 4, or four times the speed of sound, and beyond. The PDE can be combined with other engine cycles, such as turbines, rockets, or hypersonic scramjets, to optimize flight envelopes, said Fred Schauer, assigned to the AFRL Propulsion Directorate.
I have no idea whatsoever what the next step (if there is a next step) will be.