China successfully tested its hypersonic aircraft in the JF-12 crash tunnel in Beijing.  (Photo: Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Researchers in China developed what would be the first hypersonic detonation wave engine aircraft capable of traveling at 9 times the speed of sound using kerosene as fuel.

In early 2022, scientists have conducted various operational tests of the hypersonic aircraft in the Beijing JF-12 crash tunnel with successful results. The plane reaches a speed of Mach 9that is, approximately 10,735km/h. The ship operates with kerosene, a cheap fuel compared to what is usually used for this type of aircraft, hydrogen.

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The aircraft was developed by the team of researchers led by Liu Yunfeng, a senior engineer at the Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. “The results of the tests had not been made public before. [motores de detonación hipersónica que utilizan] aviation kerosene”, they wrote in their academic article in .

The knock engine works setting off a series of explosionswhich release more energy than conventional combustion but with the same amount of fuel.

China successfully tested its hypersonic aircraft in the JF-12 crash tunnel in Beijing. (Photo: Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

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First hypersonic airplane with kerosene

Liu’s team is not the first to pursue a detonation engine that uses kerosene, but other scientists were faced with the challenge of igniting kerosene quickly and in extremely hot air. Instead, used hydrogen as fuel, which is more risky and expensive.

However, Liu and his colleagues came up with a solution to replace hydrogen with kerosene: add a kind of bulge in engine air intake, which facilitated the ignition of kerosene. As hot air and fuel hit the bulge, shock waves were produced.

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Liu’s aircraft engine uses kerosene RP-3which is an easy one to find in Chinese airports, according to the media .

The Chinese government has plans for hypersonic aircraft: they want to form a fleet with ships capable of transporting passengers to any part of the globe in an hour or two.

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