GE patents pulse-detonation core for a turbofan

On the subject of PDEs – pulse detonation engines – General Electric has just been assigned a US patent for a turbofan that uses a rotating pulse-detonation system, rather than low- and high-pressure turbines, to drive the fan and compressor. Basically, each turbine stage is replaced by a radial array of raked and angled pulse-detonation tubes.


According to the patent, the first ring of PDE tubes (58) is fired first to start the booster compressor (28) turning. Once the booster is up to speed it provides compressed air to the remaining PDE rings (59), which then fire up to drive the fan (20).

GE%20PDE-turbine%20side.jpg GE%20PDE-turbine%20front.jpg

As a PDE ring turns, each tube sequentially passes first a port (50) allowing air into the tube, then a fuel injector (52), then the igniter (54), which initiates a supersonic detonation wave (66) to power the ring’s rotation.

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5 Responses to GE patents pulse-detonation core for a turbofan

  1. Ian Jones 5 March, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    Could this system not be adapted to rotary wing flight? A non-torque reaction inducing rotor, as per the Fairy Rotordyne? It would give the high rotor torque thrust values required of modern six to eight blade rotors.

  2. The Woracle 5 March, 2008 at 3:12 pm #

    Hellishly noisy, I suspect – like the Rotodyne

  3. John Aislabie 8 March, 2008 at 1:40 am #

    It is nearly 50 years since anyone heard a Rotodyne and with ’60s and 70′s jets not yet heard at that time, I am wondering just how loud it really was. Is there some clear data and can anyone who did hear it give an idea of the problem?
    And was any effort made to quieten it during its short life

  4. The Woracle 8 March, 2008 at 2:09 am #

    Good question. My understanding was they had made significant progress in reducing tipjet noise when the Rotodyne was cancelled (for political and not technical reasons).

    But Groen is wrestling with tipjet noise on its Heliplane high-speed gyroplane for DARPA, so it’s clearly a difficult problem.

  5. Matthew G. Saroff 2 July, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    It seems pretty obvious to me, but I’m not in the “biz”.

    I’ve seen a lot about replacing conventional combusters with PDEs over the past year or so.

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