Prof. K Ahmed / Univ. of Central Florida
A University of Central Florida research effort produced a continuously firing prototype of a H2/O2 rotating detonation engine.

Pratt & Whitney Developing New Concept Engine

March 6, 2022
The project will proceed with a ground-test demonstration program for “a rotating engine detonation concept” proposed by P&W’s prototyping center.

Jet engine builder Pratt & Whitney has a new contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct a ground-test demonstration program for “a novel architecture using a rotating engine detonation concept”. The demonstration will be carried out by Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, and Raytheon Technologies Research Center.

Pratt & Whitney did not report the value or other terms of the contract.

A rotating detonation engine (RDE) uses a form of combustion involving one or more detonations continuously moving around an annular channel, achieving supersonic speeds. The process is said to be theoretically up to 25% more efficient than the standard detonative combustion engine designs.

“Pratt & Whitney’s Gatorworks was able to complete initial concept development well ahead of schedule, and we will continue leveraging our digital and agile capabilities to accelerate progress on this program,” stated Dave Stagney, director of Gatorworks – the OEM’s engine development and prototyping unit.

The engine is being designed to fly at higher Mach speeds, which Pratt & Whitney explained will expand the possibilities for future vehicle designs, including its own high-speed engines.

The Air Force Research Lab is a scientific research center operated by the United States Air Force Materiel Command at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, that oversees development and integration of aerospace warfighting technology.

“Pratt & Whitney has made considerable progress developing this concept to date, and we look forward to successfully demonstrating this important technology in collaboration with the RTX team,” stated Dr. Michael Gregg, director of the AFRL Aerospace Directorate.