If Navy researchers have their way, this ship will host a constant explosion in its engine rooms.
Image credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tommy Lamkin

The US Navy wants great (rotating, detonating) balls of fire!

Looks to replace its gas turbine engines with rotating detonation versions.

by Kyle Niemeyer – Nov 5 2012, 3:20pm EST

The US Navy relies heavily on gas turbine engines to power both aircraft and ships, spending about $2 billion (with a “b”… or about one tenth of NASA’s entire budget last year) every year on fuel for them. Even a small reduction in fuel consumption would save millions of dollars, but future engines also need to meet increasing demands for power.

Nearly all commercial aircraft—and plenty of power plants—use gas turbines, so we’ve spent a lot of time optimizing their designs. This means that trying to continue to improve them will only eke out a few more percentage points of efficiency. In order to reach both the increased power levels and reduced fuel consumption the Navy wants—10 percent and 25 percent, respectively—we’ve got to come up with entirely new engine designs. (Just like automotive engineers, as we recently featured.)

Any new technology that the Navy develops could also be used in civilian aircraft and power plants. For a little perspective, US airlines spent over $50 billion on fuel last year.

With that in mind, a team at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), led by Dr. Kazhikathra Kailasanath, are developing rotating detonation engines, which should offer the higher efficiency and power output desired.

Read more: The US Navy wants great (rotating, detonating) balls of fire! | Ars Technica.

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