Chinese scientists claim to have built a hypersonic jet engine called “sodramjet”—capable of reaching speeds of Mach 16 (approx. 19,756 km/h). This means that an aircraft kitted out with such engines could fly anywhere in the world in two hours, according to the Chinese scientists.
The test flight of a prototype was carried out in a wind tunnel in Beijing, China, and achieved unprecedented performance in terms of thrust, fuel efficiency, and operational stability.
Led by Professor Zonglin Jiang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Mechanics, the team’s findings were published in the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.
This type of engine could be used in “reusable trans-atmospheric planes [that will] take off horizontally from an airport runway, accelerate into orbit around the Earth, then re-enter into the atmosphere, and finally land at an airport,” Chinese scientists say.
Standing oblique detonation ramjet engine, or “sodramjet,” the engine was tested at speeds of up to 9 times the speed of sound in a powerful wind tunnel.
It has to be noted, that this “new” Chinese sodramjet test may have actually taken place “a while ago,” cautions hypersonic aerodynamics scientists who spoke with the South China Morning Post.
Theoretically, the engine could accelerate an aircraft up to sixteen times the speed of sound, but this is yet to be tested. The team is confident that their innovation could be one of the first to move commercial flights to hypersonic speeds since the existing hypersonic flight engines, called scramjets, are too weak, too greedy, and too unstable.
“70 years’ exploration on hypersonic propulsion indicates that the revolutionary concept is really in need of hypersonic air-breathing engine development. The Sodramjet engine concept can be a very promising choice,” their article stated.
Keeping that in mind is important; however, it is also true that “the dream for human beings to fly faster, higher and further than ever,” is getting closer and closer in reach, as per the scientists.