Pulse Detonation Engine, Exploding Stuff to the Moon… Literally.
We suck at space travel… we really do (The prison of earth #1) That’s right Detonation as in a big boom, that’s what Pulse Detonation Engines (PDEs) are all about. Pulse detonation engines are a technology built on pulse jet engines but PDEs are way stronger. NASA is way behind in this field. Russia’s RosCosmos (equivalent to NASA but Russian) has already created a prototype engine… Ya I know it looks like something Han Solo would strap on the Millennium Falcon with duct tape on the go (#StarWarsTrilogy) but believe me it is legit. Well, what does it do… it explodes air and gas out of its rear side to propel itself forward (no joke) but you can’t understand pulse detonation engines without understanding pulse jet engines.
Unfortunately for you guys how pulse jet engines work is quite complex so I divided it into an easy to understand 11 step process.
- The chamber this place holds air and fuel. When a small bit of heat is made by a spark plug the fuel ignites.
- The fuel burns and the air expands, and also makes a very annoying PFFFFT sound that scientists are trying to fix.
- The expansion of air leads to higher pressure in the chamber leading us to the second component.
- A pipe pointing downward will let the pressurized air escape giving an upward thrust to the spacecraft (hey its not my fault this technology works exactly like a fart).
- The chambers pressure is now equal to outside… This is where the real fun begins, most people would give up at this stage, we managed to make a small propulsion but what now?
- The gas that is escaping the chamber continues to escape through the chamber is not pressurized, this is because of inertia (a nerdy way of saying that when something is moving in a direction it continues to move until it is stopped by an outside force).
- This creates a vacuum (not to be confused with your weekly chores) in the chamber.
- A one-way valve will open up and allow air in when this vacuum is created filling the chamber up to normal pressure.
- Fuel will be pumped into the chamber refilling it with gas and fuel at normal pressure… “wait a second isn’t that what we had at the start” (that’s my brother thinking out loud in my article)… ya man that’s the point but we aren’t done yet.
- the gas from the previous reaction slows and goes back into the chamber. (step 7–9 must happen simultaneously for this to work).
- The hot air ignites the fuel which expands the air which repeats the whole process (told you this is awesome).
Pulse jet engines (what I just explained) have no use what so ever in space travel… whoa there, before you start posting this article as an example of an internet troll here me out. This is how a pulse jet engine works. Pulse jets are predicted to revolutionize air travel (but not space travel) if they work. They rely on deflagration (when you let something burn at relatively low pressures) and the material escapes slowly (slow like subsonic speeds not slow as in how you get out of bed at 6:00 am).
A spin-off of this technology is called Pulse detonation engine (or PDE). PDEs can completely change current space travel. The next stage of deflagration is detonation (as in a big boom) it is much more powerful and can travel at supersonic speeds. For a PDE you follow the same steps as a pulse jet engine (PJE) but the gas and fuel must be much more pressurized and compressed before or during the ignition process. That is much harder than it seems but by combining the below it is possible:
- use of a smaller amount of a more volatile fuel (like H2 and O2). NOTE: H2 + O2 ≠ water, H2 + O2 = Certain death if done at home + some bleach.
- Ignition with powerful electrical charge Like the one Palpatine used against Mace Windu (#StarWarsPrequels… ya again… you can’t blame me the new star wars is coming).
- Carefully designed passages which create high turbulence. This traps (in a open environment… that is the tricky part) the air and allows it to really get compressed.
To turn a pulse jet engine into a PDE you must have compress the air before letting it go. Then you can let it escape in an explosion, may sound weird to do in an open chamber but the sheer speed of this cycle solves this. Problems such as:
- valves exploding because of the pressure.
- the exact timing needed (if ignited to soon there is not enough air, if too late the air already left
- With the exponentially faster speed there also comes exponentially louder PFFFFT sounds(the engine will make 12-year-old squeaker sound like pro singer)
and like everything else these problems will be short lived as already many innovative humans have take on the job making things like valveless PDEs or more powerful systems.
Although there is one limitation for PDEs. Air, PDEs need an atmosphere to work in, otherwise there won’t be more air to explode. Though that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used in space (actually it does… who do these astronomers think they are… lying to us thinking we won’t find out.) Well it can’t be used in space, but in defense of RosCosmos it can be used for launching rockets into space.
Currently the main problem in space travel is escaping Earth’s immense gravity, in fact if you look at the picture on the right, the 1st stage (the bigger part of the rocket) is dropped at only 8–15 km off the ground (depending on the rocket). The atmosphere is 500 km tall. I know we are trash but hey we are progressing... slowly yes, but it is progress.
What would happen if this article was put in a Pulse Detonation Engine.
Well first it would be compressed into 3 points:
- Pulse detonation works by exploding air and fuel (rather violently) to be propelled forward.
- It is very hard to execute because everything has to be perfect and spot on otherwise the PDE will fail
- PDEs can exponentially lessen the cost for current space travel and revolutionize the space and air industry.
After it would make a very very load applauding sound and be detonated outward into social media and all that jazz… (yes I am shamelessly advertising my article.)