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This three-dimensional numerical simulation captures complex combustion dynamics in a realistic, non-premixed, rotating detonation engine configuration. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory)

Argonne National Laboratory and the Air Force Research Laboratory developed a new numerical modeling tool that allows for a better understanding of rotating detonation engines (RDEs). Unlike conventional gas turbine engines, RDEs leverage high-intensity, self-sustaining detonation to rapidly consume the fuel-air mixture, typically in a ring-shaped, cylindrical chamber.

The team developed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to predict the combustion behavior of RDEs, which could one day propel the next generation of airplanes and rockets.

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