Here is a link to a September 2009 interview by MIT’s Technology Review magazine of Michael Idelchick, VP of Advanced Technologies at GE Research in which he talks about GE’s research into pulsed detonation engines. He stated that GE is looking to apply PDEs initially for land-based power generation using natural gas as fuel. However, there are several patents from GE that show PDEs being used for airborne applications. Some of the researchers at GE do claim that they are working on flight applications in their blogs and paper publications. Perhaps GE wants to reach the market place first with a ground based PDE-turbine power generation system so as to work out all the hurdles before moving on to PDE vehicular propulsion systems.
Dr. Aaron Glaser works on PDEs at GE’s Energy and Propulsion lab. This is a September 2009 blog entry by Glasertalking about their latest tests on a PDE test rig. Their engine featured three detonation tubes supplied by rotary valves. The blog has a short 16 second video of the engine undergoing testing. This is a February 2010 entry with several high-speed video clips of shadowgraphs of the engine’s exhaust flow, some of which shows the trajectory of the exiting detonation wave front. Very interesting work.
Dr. Adam Rasheed is a more veteran PDE experimental researcher at GE’s Energy and Propulsion lab. Here is a November 2008 blog entry from Dr. Rasheed outlining the progress in their research work. A picture of their PDE setup from a 3D-CAD program is shown on the page.
This blog entry has a fantastic high-speed video clip of the Detoflagration-to-Detonation (DDT) process, a flame front growing into a fully formed flat-fronted detonation wave, within a clear plastic tube with ring shaped obstacles. The video link seems to be broken at present. Here is the same 12 second video at YouTube. I would recommend downloading the video and slowing it down to get a better picture of the DDT process. Notice the formation of localized explosions and hot spots leading to the initiation of the flat DW. Amazing stuff!