Reusable SPARTAN scramjet engine powered by sustainable green hydrogen
Brisbane-based aerospace engineering start-up Hypersonix Launch Systems is developing a reusable launch system powered by green hydrogen that makes launches more accessible and also more sustainable.
Hypersonic speed is more than five times the speed of sound – or “Mach 5” – which barely exceeds 6,000 km/h. At Mach 5 and above, friction caused by molecules flowing over the hypersonic aircraft can generate temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees Celsius. Suffice to say that Hypersersonix chooses its materials to face these extremes.
The Hypersonix team is made up of 20 aerospace engineers and materials scientists and has come a long way since its inception in 2019, just before the pandemic changed the global landscape. In a short time, and in the shadow of the pandemic, the team developed a three-stage satellite launch system, called Wirraway, which uses reusable scramjet engine technology for engines powered by green hydrogen. sustainable. This means that it would put small satellites into orbit without producing carbon emissions.
The team builds its new SPARTAN green hydrogen scramjet engine using ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), as these are able to withstand the high temperatures experienced by space vehicles during space travel and especially during the controlled re-entry phase. CMCs have a high strength-to-weight ratio even at high temperatures, high thermal shock resistance and toughness.
The Hyperspartan SPARTAN can accelerate from Mach 5 to Mach 12; or five to twelve times the speed of sound. The Delta-Velos vehicle equipped with the SPARTAN engine will travel more than 2,500 km (1,553 miles) without emitting CO2 or other harmful gases before landing like a conventional aircraft ready to take off again after refueling and checks.
“Our core knowledge is scramjet engines and how to develop durable hypersonic aircraft. We are actively researching research and development as well as durability and high temperature resistance for multi-purpose launchers and engines and their components,” noted Dr. Michael Smart, co-founder, chief technology officer and director of research and development at Hypersonix. The company has recently developed collaborative partnerships with the University of Southern Queensland, Boeing Australia, Siemens (for multiphysics computational fluid dynamics software) and industrial gases company – BOC Ltd.
The Delta-Velos will launch attached to Hypersersonix’s reusable Boomerang first-stage booster, which also returns to Earth for reuse. Once in the upper atmosphere, it would release 50kg satellite payloads, which would then be propelled into low Earth orbit (LEO) or sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). The company hopes to have the Delta Velos Orbiter in the air by the end of 2024.