Advanced Propulsion Systems Research  



Research in advanced propulsion systems...

is striving to study the main physicochemical reactions in high-pressure and/or high velocity propulsion systems of the future using highly sensitive laser and optical diagnostics. The scope of study includes hypersonic air-breathing engines, aerospace rocket propulsion systems, gas turbines, as well as advanced land based internal combustion engine concepts.




Hypersonic Propulsion Systems

Special focus is being made on investigation of hypersonic scramjet engines using laser and optical diagnostics. Arc heated high enthalpy & hypersonic wind tunnel in the range of Mach 4.5 to 10 (ACT-II) is used for both investigation of turbulent flame dynamics as well as new energetically enhanced combustion concepts. 

Supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific


Supersonic Combustor ACT-II (Arc Heated Combustion Tunnel) - II at the University of Illinois

ACT-II is a new plasma arc heated supersonic combustion tunnel at the University of Illinois. The original ACT-I, which was conceived, designed, and built by Professor Hyungrok Do (currently at Seoul National University) and located at the University of Notre Dame and was the forerunner to the current model. ACT-II is equipped with enhanced optical access and a more stable and adjustable two stage plasma arc heating system (with an improved power supply unit) with a NOx minization flow control originally deployed in ACT-I. Operational Mach numbers are from 4.5 to 10 (freestream) and the combustor can be operated in both a free flow and direct connect configurations. In addition to the retangular scramjet configuration utilized in ACT-I, ACT-II was optimized for a axis-symmetric circular combustor in addition to rectangular configurations. Operational test time for ACT-II is a full second, whereas typical flame stabilization occurs within 40 ms of fuel injection.


High-Pressure Reactive Flow Imaging

Using multi-spectral LIF imaging, efforts are being made to make quantitative imaging of chemical species with high sensitivity at pressures exceeding 50 bar. The intent is to enable excitation and detection strategies which are valid for modern propulsion systems. The left image shows quantitative nitric oxide (NO) imaging up to 60 bars.

Supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research


Next Generation: Wave Disk Engine

A new project is underway to develop a novel and highly efficient engine which extracts power from combustion using shock wave propagation along a rotating disk. The 'wave disk' under normal operating conditions can be up to 80% more efficient than the regular piston based internal combustion engine by not relying on power extraction during gas expansion. This project was one of 37 selected from a pool of more than 3700 proposals.

Supported by the Department of Energy, ARPA-E



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