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Current Affairs

Air breathing scramjet engine

Date: 14 September 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) performed a major technological feat when it flew a cruise vehicle at a hypersonic speed of Mach six for 20 seconds.

 

Background

The DRDO called the cruise vehicle Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV). The centrepiece of the HSTDV was the indigenously developed air-breathing scramjet engine, which formed the HSTDV’s propulsion system. 

 

Details

  • The critical technologies developed for the HSTDV mission were the scramjet engine and its ignition, sustaining the ignition, ethylene fuel, generation of maximum energy from the engine.

  • Development of materials to take care of the high temperatures that occurred due to air friction on the leading edges of the cruiser’s wings, tail surface and nose tip, and controlling the HSTDV with minimum drag and maximum thrust.

  • In an air-breathing scramjet engine, air from the atmosphere is rammed into the engine’s combustion chamber at a supersonic speed of more than Mach two.

  • In the chamber, the air mixes with the fuel to ignite a supersonic combustion but the cruiser’s flight will be at a hypersonic speed of Mach six to seven. So it is called supersonic combustion ramjet or Scramjet.

  • Air from the atmosphere was then rammed into the scramjet engine’s combustion chamber at a supersonic speed.

  • The air mixed with the atomised fuel, the fuel was ignited and the scramjet engine revved into action. 

  • The DRDO’s missile complex in Hyderabad, comprising the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), the Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), and the Advanced Systems' Laboratory (ASL) developed all the technologies needed for the mission.

  • Mastering the air-breathing scramjet technology will lead to the development of hypersonic missiles, faster civilian air transportation and facilities for putting satellites into orbit at a low cost.