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Radial Rotating Detonation Engine Driven Bleed Air Turbine

Riley T. Huff,∗ Scott A. Boller,∗ Marc D. Polanka,† and Frederick R. Schauer‡
Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright–Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433
Matthew L. Fotia§ and John L. Hoke¶
Innovation Scientific Solutions, Inc., Dayton, Ohio 45459
There has been a recent need for rapid response power generation device on aircraft. Current power generators
consume a large portion of the aircraft’s usable volume, and they are also extremely heavy relative to their power output;
therefore, the need for compact, power-dense auxiliary power units or bleed air turbine (BAT) arose. A solution comes in
the form of coupling rotating detonation engines (RDEs) with a turbine generator. Previous work on RDE turbine
integration has been successfully demonstrated with significant power extraction, but a modification leading to a more
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compact form with higher power density would be beneficial. Therefore, a new type of RDE referred to as the radial
rotating detonation engine (RRDE) was developed for use as a combustor for a BAT. This design was based on a
disk-shaped device within which reactants flow from the outer radius, detonate, and then exit the inner radius. Here the
flow was routed into a compact centrifugal turbocharger turbine to extract the power. The power extracted from the
turbine was measured using the compressor side of the turbocharger as a brake. Three different nozzle guide vanes
changed the flow angle into the turbine. Various mechanisms of backpressuring the device were also accomplished over a
range of mass flows. The results show significant power output from the device of over 60 kW at an operational speed
over 110 kRPM. The RRDE configuration suffers from losses in the system, but has the potential for overall thermal
efficiencies of up to 40%. The results also suggested that the interactions between the combustion chamber and the nozzle
guide vanes may be a large source of losses. Finally, the addition of compressor backpressure and turbine backpressure
plates did not affect the operating mode of the RRDE, but did improve the output power of the system.

Nomenclature promise for increased efficiency lead to a potential increase in power

Aexit = restrictor exit area extraction, which has made RDEs an attractive option for use with
Aturbine = turbine exit area turbomachinery and the potential for an improved gas turbine engine
cp = specific heat capacity cycle. Recent work by Naples et al. [2] has examined this possibility
by coupling an RDE with the turbine from a T63 gas turbine engine.
ht;4 = total enthalpy
Their results showed an increase in turbine power when using the
m_a = turbine mass flow
RDE over the T63’s conventional combustor. This study showed
m_c = compressor mass flow
promise for an RDE to be used as the combustor in a gas turbine
Pt2 ∕Pt1 = compressor total pressure ratio
engine, and it opened up the possibility to use an RDE as an auxiliary
T t1 = total temperature
power unit (APU) or bleed air turbine (BAT).
W_ s = turbine specific power
Naples et al.’s research focused on using a conventional, annular
W_ t = turbine power RDE coupled with an axial turbine. Although this combination proved
γ = ratio of specific heats beneficial for operating the T63 engine, this layout was not conducive
ηc = compressor efficiency for a compact APU. A more aggressive turbine stage or more stages of
ηmech = mechanical efficiency turbine would be needed to extract the excess available work in the
ηt = turbine efficiency flow. One solution for this problem was replacing the axial turbine with
ηth = thermal efficiency a radial inflow turbine (RIT). An RIT can operate at a higher pressure
φ = equivalence ratio ratio compared with axial flow turbines, which allows one stage of
radial turbine to replace multiple stages of axial turbines. RITs also
offer a more radially compact design and can be more axially compact
I. Introduction when accounting for the reduction in stages [3]. However, operating a
radial turbine with a conventional RDE poses additional issues because
R OTATING detonation engines (RDE) are pressure gain com-
bustors that operate using a detonation cycle. These geometri-
cally simple, yet functionally complex devices have acquired interest
the exhaust flows axially at the exit of the RDE.
A possible alternative solution to these issues is a radial rotating
in the recent decade due to the potential increases in thermodynamic detonation engine (RRDE), which orients the primary flow into the
efficiency over conventional constant-pressure combustors that oper- radial direction. This design takes the conventional RDE and folds it
ate under the Brayton cycle [1]. Their pressure gain property and the flat into a disk shape. An initial concept for an RRDE was designed
by Nakagami et al. [4]. Their device featured an injection scheme that
brought fuel and oxidizer in from the outer radius. It was then
Presented as Paper 2019-1011 at the 2019 AIAA Aerospace Sciences detonated in a channel, created by the top and bottom plates, before
Meeting, San Diego, CA, January 7–11, 2019; received 8 October 2019;
exiting axially at the center of the device. This design can provide the
revision received 17 July 2020; accepted for publication 19 July 2020;
published online 4 September 2020. This material is declared a work of the radial flow required by the RIT without the need for turning the flow
U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United 90° before the turbine and without the need for bulky ducting. This
States. All requests for copying and permission to reprint should be submitted disk shape provided the architecture for a new, compact APU design.
to CCC at www.copyright.com; employ the eISSN 1533-3876 to initiate your
request. See also AIAA Rights and Permissions www.aiaa.org/randp.
*Master’s Student, Department of Aeronautical Engineering. Member AIAA. II. Background

Professor, Aeronautical Engineering. Associate Fellow AIAA.
‡ A. RDE Turbine Integration
Associate Professor, Aeronautical Engineering. Associate Fellow AIAA.
Combustion Research Engineer. Senior Member AIAA. The initial attempt at coupling a turbine with an axial RDE was

Combustion Research Engineer. Associate Fellow AIAA. done by Tellefsen [5]. He used a 7.62-cm-diam RDE operating on
Article in Advance / 1
2 Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL.

hydrogen and enriched air as his test bed and coupled it with a small,
axial turbine from a JetCat P-200 that was attached to a centrifugal
compressor. Instead of directing the RDE exhaust straight into the
turbine, his design ducted the exhaust into a large, circular plenum
before injecting it axially into the turbine. This design damped out the
unsteadiness of the flow in an attempt to increase the survivability of
the turbine. Consistent detonations in the RDE-turbine configuration
occurred at mass flow rates varying from 0.23 to 0.30 kg∕s and
equivalence ratios φ from 1.1 to 1.4. Analysis of the pressure mea-
surements showed large oscillations in the pressure response at the
turbine inlet that were slightly damped out at the turbine outlet but a
near-constant pressure measurement at the inlet and exit of the
compressor. The turbine speed data mimicked the variation seen in
the turbine pressure throughout the run; however, this variation did
not propagate to the compressor, providing confidence in the ability
to couple a turbine to an RDE.
Naples et al. [2] also attached a turbine to a hydrogen–air RDE.
Their tests took a T63 turboshaft engine and coupled it with a
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modified RDE. Naples’s experiment was conducted open loop, so

the compressor exit air that would normally enter the combustor was
metered and then ducted away from the system. A special modifica- Fig. 1 Outflow disk rotating detonation engine of Higashi et al. [8].
tion was made to the RDE used for testing that allowed for parallel
cooling flow to mix with the RDE exhaust. Doing so reduced the
temperature down to the normal operating condition of the T63. III. Experimental Setup
During testing, they measured over a 20% increase in shaft power The hydrogen–air RRDE used in this investigation was designed
operating with the RDE versus the standard combustor. by Huff et al. [10] and featured a radial inward injection scheme and a
modular design as shown in Fig. 2. A full description of the hardware
B. Radial Rotating Detonation Engine
was provided in [10]. The flow path introduced air at the outer
diameter of the rig and then mixed the air with fuel at the throat, with
The RRDE development has its roots in the work of Bykovskii area At . The mixture was detonated in a constant-area channel with
et al. [6,7]. Bykovskii’s experimental device consisted of two paral- area Ac , which was the area the mass flux was based on. The products
lel, planar circular plates with a cylindrical wall at the outer radius then proceeded out a nozzle with area An that turned the radial flow
through which fuel and oxidizer were injected and an opening in the 90° to exhaust axially.
center of one of the plates for exhaust. CH4 , H2 , and C2 H2 fuels and Multiple test configurations were run specifically changing the
O2 oxidizer were used for early experiments [6], followed by H2, ratio of the areas. This included the throat area ratio (At ∕Ac ), which
CH4 , and sprayed liquid kerosene and diesel fuel with atmospheric was the ratio of the throat area to the channel area, and the nozzle area
air as the oxidizer for later experiments [7]. These experiments ratio (An ∕Ac ), or the ratio of the nozzle area to the channel area. Huff
proved that the radial configuration was viable for an RDE. Two et al. [10] showed the feasibility for this device with successful
more recent RRDE designs have been developed. These designs were detonations that ranged in wave speeds 66–72% of the CJ wave
created by Nakagami et al. [4] and Higashi et al. [8]. The design of
speed at two different mass fluxes of 50 and 75 kg∕m2 ⋅ s and
Nakagami et al. featured a radially inward injection scheme using
equivalence ratios varying from 0.67 to 1.1. They conducted further
ethylene and oxygen with viewing panels that allowed for optical
experimentation with this device, which included testing at mass
access to the detonation channel. They measured detonation wave
fluxes ranging from 50 to 200 kg∕m2 ⋅ s and varying the ratio of
speeds that started at 1600 m∕s but quickly decayed to 900 m∕s.
nozzle exit area to channel area, An ∕Ac , from 0.6 to 1.0. These results
These values were in the range of 38–67% of the Chapman–Jouguet
showed consistent detonations throughout the test matrix and showed
(CJ) wave speed [4]. Their optical measurements captured the struc-
one-, two-, and three-wave operation.
ture of the detonation, which closely resemble the detonation struc-
ture of a conventional RDE. They also found a similar oblique shock
structure forming off of the detonation regime seen by Schwer and A. Turbine Channel/Nozzle Guide Vane Design
Kailasanath [9]. Their results gave confidence in the functionality of The turbine selected for this investigation was the Garrett
an RRDE and suggested that it may operate similarly to axial RDEs. GT3582R automotive turbocharger turbine. Figure 3 shows this
Higashi et al. [8] designed a hydrogen–air RRDE consisting of a hardware, which was 68 mm in diameter and was rated for mass
static top plate and a rotating bottom plate attached to a centrifugal
compressor at the center of the bottom disk and a ring of turbine
blades at the outer edge of the disk. This design is shown in Fig. 1 and
operated by bringing air in from the center of the device using a radial
compressor. The air then moved radially outward into the detonation
channel before exiting through a ring of turbine blades. These blades
were designed to exhaust the detonation products with a tangential
velocity component that would spin the bottom plate and drive the
inboard compressor. The device was started using an electric motor
that was decoupled before the detonation was ignited. One of their
key results was an increase in speed after the detonation was ignited,
demonstrating the potential for coupling an RRDE with a turbine.
The current effort aimed to use a radial RDE to drive a turbine to
show the feasibility of a coupled RDE–turbine system. This paper
shows operation of the combined system over a lean range of equiv-
alence ratios. The paper highlights some potential benefits of the
RRDE turbo combination while acknowledging that more work is
needed to accurately determine efficiency. Fig. 2 Radial RDE layout.
Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL. 3

Fig. 5 Turbine exit modifications.

300, 400 and 500 m∕s. The NGV ring height was set by the height of
turbocharger turbine blade tips and was held constant across the
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NGV ring.
Fig. 3 Integrated turbocharger. Initial testing at the exit plane of the device showed radial expan-
sion of the exhaust gases, which was not expected to occur (Fig. 5a).
In their conventional application, RITs typically have the flow remain
axial out of the turbine [13]. To combat this, an exhaust duct was
flow rates up to 0.58 kg∕s and a maximum corrected rotational speed added that matched the 31 mm radius of the existing turbine exhaust
of 130 kRPM. The turbine was inserted into the center of the RRDE to turn the flow axial. This duct then acted as a location for the
and replaced the purple nozzle shown in Fig. 2. The radial RDE insertion of pitot probes for post turbine measurements of total
showing the turbocharger in place is depicted in Fig. 4. Integration of temperature and total pressure (Fig. 5b). This allowed for the calcu-
the turbocharger into the rig also required incorporation of the nozzle lation of the state of the turbine exhaust, which was used to determine
guide vane (NGV) rings (shown in white). These NGVs served to turn the turbine’s effectiveness. Finally, backpressure plates were in-
the flow into the turbine and changed the geometry of the RRDE from stalled to give the turbine a more realistic flow condition (Fig. 5c).
the previous combustor-only configuration. The outer radius of the The backpressure plates allowed for testing of area ratios (ARs) of the
NGV ring (50.8 mm) and the height of the channel at that radius collar exit, Aexit , to the turbine exit area, Aturbine , of 0.65, 0.84, and 1.0.
(13.9 mm) dictated the area of the turbine channel at 44.3 cm2 . To In addition to the turbine backpressure plates, the compressor exhaust
accommodate this larger area at this location, a new turbine channel area was also adjusted through the use of a ball valve (seen in Fig. 6).
plate, shown in green in Fig. 4, was built. The design goal of this piece The ball valve angle was tested at 0 (wide open), 20, and 40° to create
was to create a constant-area duct from the throat ring (dark yellow) a flow restriction. This allowed the compressor to operate at different
up to the NGV rings as the radius decreased. Similar to the previous points on its operating map, thus creating a change in the load on the
effort, this channel area was used to determine the mass flux through turbine for a given flow condition.
the system.
The flow in the RRDE remains predominately radial as it moved B. Instrumentation
through the device despite the azimuthal motion of the detonation Figure 6 shows the measurement locations taken to capture the
wave. This characteristic and the fact that RIT required a tangential flow characteristics for the RRDE for the BAT layout. Several
velocity component necessitated that the flow be conditioned on measurements, taken in the channel plate (shown in Fig. 4), were
entrance to the RIT. The design of these vanes was accomplished the same used by Huff et al. [10]. Figure 6a shows this piece from a
with TurbAero, a radial turbine design program [11]. The conditions top-down perspective highlighting the various measurement loca-
used for this design was a mass flow rate of 0.5 kg∕s entering the tions. Consistent measurements with the previous testing included
NGV ring at an assumed temperature of 1600 K and assumed the predetonator, represented by the yellow dot; the infinite tube
pressure of 0.2 MPa. These conditions were rough estimates on the pressure (ITP) measurements, represented by the red dots; the
desired operating condition of the RRDE. thermocouple, represented by the blue dot; the plenum capillary tube
Three NGV rings were designed, each with a set of 17 vanes attenuated pressure (CTAP) taps; and the channel CTAPs, repre-
turning the flow at different angles of 23.5, 32, and 39°. The number sented by the three larger green dots. The CTAPs were measured
of blades was selected in an attempt to avoid exciting any damaging by an Omega PX429 pressure transducer with an accuracy to 1.3 kPa.
blade pass frequencies within the 10-blade turbine. The flow angles There were three additional CTAPs monitoring the pressure dis-
were set based on matching the tangential velocity of the turbine at tribution measurements surrounding the NGV ring. These measure-
three different turbine speeds that correspond to a turbine tip speed of ments quantify the average pressure at the start of the NGV ring

Fig. 4 Radial RDE bleed air turbine configuration.

4 Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL.

W_ t
ηt  (3)
W_ t;i

where ηt is the turbine efficiency. For comparison, it should be noted

that the maximum efficiency reported for this turbine was 70% [12].

C. Test Setup
The test setup for the RRDE was the same setup as used by Huff
et al. [10] for the RRDE operating map characterization. The main
changes in the setup with the turbocharger installed included running
oil lines from the existing oil system on the test stand to the turbo-
Fig. 6 a) Instrumentation in the RRDE channel and b) layout of the charger bearings. Because of the addition of the oil lines, the size of
compressor flow path. the compressor housing, and the instrumentation pipes attached to the
compressor, the fuel lines had to be changed from attaching straight
into the back of the RRDE to attaching perpendicular to the RRDE
(seen as the small green dot in Fig. 6a), the center of the NGV ring, through elbow fittings. The addition of measurements added to the
and the exit of the NGV ring; however, these data were not presented. compressor required pipes extending from the inlet and exit of the
The ITP measurement allowed for the examination of the wave form, compressor. The exit pipe stemming from the compressor also fea-
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wave number, and wave direction and were obtained using Kulite tured a ball valve for backpressuring the compressor.
ETL-4-GTS-190-500A high-speed pressure transducers. Further- Before installing the turbocharger in the RRDE, an operating map of
more, these high-speed pressure transducers were used to determine the RRDE was created to determine where the RDE detonated and
if the RRDE was operating in a detonative mode. There were addi- functioned well. The operating map was performed for the configura-
tional measurements included in the collar section at the turbine exit. tion with the larger, 4.5 mm, channel, a throat area ratio of 0.2, and a
The turbine exit pressure was measured using an Omega PX429 nozzle area ratio of 0.5. The operating map was created by varying the
through the use of a Kiel probe to track total pressure. The exhaust mass flow rates and equivalence ratios. The RRDE successfully deto-
gas temperature (EGT) was measured using K-type thermocouples nated at every mass flux rate in the range of 50–200 kg∕m2 ⋅ s,
ranging in diameter from 0.5 to 1.6 mm. The use of small-diameter which corresponds to a mass flow rate variation of roughly
thermocouples allowed for the temperature measurement to reach 0.23–0.45 kg∕s. The lowest equivalence ratios where a successful
steady state within a short run time of 1–1.5 s, which minimized the detonation occurred was roughly 0.5 at each given mass flux.
exposure time to preserve turbine life. The same mass flow rates were tested for the BAT setup, with the
Additional measurements were taken on the compressor side of turbine plate and turbocharger installed. This corresponded to a mass
the turbocharger, shown in Fig. 6b. The compressor was coupled flux of 50–100 kg∕m2 ⋅ s due to the larger channel area with the
to the turbine as shown in the figure but not part of the RRDE flow turbine top plate. The equivalence ratio was only varied from 0.5 to
path. The compressor was used to characterize the performance of the 0.6 in an attempt to keep the turbine inlet temperature low to extend
turbine. The method of using the turbocharger compressor as a brake the life of the uncooled turbine. The initial RRDE turbine tests
to measure power was similar to the one used by Rouser et al. [14]. evaluated the performance of the turbocharger with the three NGV
The measurements included a speed sensor (not shown) on the turning angles. The second set of results fixed the mass flux at
compressor, a mass air flow (MAF) sensor measuring the air going 75 kg∕m2 ⋅ s and the NGV angle at 32.0° and investigated the
into the compressor, and temperature and pressure measurements impact of the turbine exit area ratio and the ball valve restrictions.
taken before and after the compressor. The MAF, the pressure trans- Through examination of the high-speed pressure data, it was deter-
ducers, and the thermocouples were accurate to <1% within the test mined that the test cases with an equivalence ratio of 0.5 were
range. The accuracy of the speed sensor was not provided. One note is operating in an acoustic mode, whereas the cases operating at an
that the air that passed through the compressor was not the air that equivalence ratio of 0.6 were detonating.
entered the RRDE. These measurements allowed for the backing out
of the power extracted by the turbine by using Eq. (1):
IV. Results and Discussion
_ c cp T t1
m Pt2 The RRDE was first tested with the NGV ring cascade with the
W_ t  −1 (1) flow turning angle of 23.5° installed without the turbocharger. Test-
ηmech ηc Pt1
ing in this configuration evaluated that the detonation process did not
damage the NGV ring. An observation during these tests was that
where W_ t is the power extracted from the turbine, m
_ c is the mass flow there was a reduction in the audible decibel level of the RRDE when it
rate through the compressor, cp and γ are the values for air at the was operating over the combustor only configuration of Huff et al.
compressor inlet temperature and pressure, T t1 is the total temper- [10]. This was likely due to the NGV cascade acting as baffling,
ature upstream of the compressor, ηmech is the mechanical efficiency which reduced the magnitude of the pressure disturbances from the
of the power transfer from the turbine to the compressor and is detonation wave as it passed around the channel. After testing of the
assumed to be 0.99 due to a direct shaft connection, ηc is the RRDE in the NGV-only configuration, the turbocharger was installed
compressor efficiency and was determined based on the compressor and was run through a range of cold flow tests. These tests spanned
efficiency map, and Pt2 ∕Pt1 is the total compressor pressure ratio. the 0.23–0.45 kg∕s air mass flow rates that were planned for the hot
The accuracy of the turbine output power was known to within 1%. run testing, with the operating speed varying from 35 to 60 kRPM.
The ideal power extraction from the turbine was obtained by using These tests showed no damage to the RRDE or the turbocharger
Eq. (2): turbine and allowed for the progression to testing the device under
detonation operation.
W_ t;i  m
_ t ht;4 − ht;5  (2) After the cold flow tests were complete, the RRDE was fired with
the turbocharger. Figure 7 shows a plot of the operating speed of the
where W_ t;i is the ideal power extraction, m_ t is the mass flow through turbocharger throughout an example run of the RRDE. This test was
the turbine determined from pressures in the inlet line and sonic conducted at an operating point with a mass flow rate of 0.45 kg∕s, a
nozzles, ht;4 is the preturbine total enthalpy, and ht;5 is the postturbine mass flux of 100 kg∕m2 ⋅ s, an equivalence ratio of 0.6, and an
total enthalpy determined from thermocouples. The ideal turbine NGV turning angle of 23.5°. Upon successful detonation initiation,
power was then compared with the actual turbine power extraction dramatic increase in operating speed (nearly double) was measured.
through the use of Eq. (3): Also noticed was a further audible quieting of the device during
Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL. 5

Fig. 7 RRDE turbine operation.

Fig. 9 Turbine tip speed versus NGV turning angle.

testing apparently due to the turbine damping out more of the noise of
the RRDE.
(assuming that it was not separated). Figure 9 shows a plot of the
turbine tip speed versus the NGV turning angle at an equivalence
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A. Impact of Nozzle Guide Vane ratio of 0.5. Clearly the 39° NGV was unable to drive the turbine at
The initial test program investigated the RRDE turbine perfor- the design speed for each of the tested mass fluxes.
mance over a range of mass fluxes from 50 to 100 kg∕m2 ⋅ s for the Looking at the specific power in Fig. 10 for all tests conducted
three NGV angles of 23, 32, and 39°. The performance of the turbine indicated a higher operating speed led to a higher specific power
was measured for these cases, with the key performance parameter of output from the turbine. However, there were three clear striations
interest being the specific turbine power given by Eq. (4) that divided the data points by the mass flux through the device.
Furthermore, there was overlap indicated by Point A at the
highest mass fluxes of 100 kg∕m2 ⋅ s with Point B at a flux of
W_ s  t (4) 75 kg∕m2 ⋅ s. Point A has a significantly lower specific power at an
m_a NGV angle of 23.5° and at an equivalence ratio of 0.5 than Point B
with the higher flow turning and higher equivalence ratio.
where W_ t was the power extracted by the turbine, and m _ a was the When these same points (A and B) were compared on a plot of
mass flow rate through the turbine. power versus operating speed, Fig. 11, they fell at nearly the same
Figure 8 shows a plot of the specific turbine power output versus location and both points fell along a trend line common with the
the mass flux through the RRDE. The plot delineates between the remainder of the data. This suggested that the turbine output power
three NGV angles tested and the two equivalence ratios, and repre- was solely dependent on the turbine speed and the torque required to
sentative uncertainty bars are provided. For all mass fluxes shown, spin the compressor at that speed. These results suggested that the
there was an increase in the specific power as the equivalence ratio turbine did not extract the full potential of the flow, which meant that
increased. This was expected due to the increase in energy input into the potential for additional power output exists at the same operating
the system with the extra fuel. For some test points, like the NGV condition presented. Furthermore, the lack of a sharp differentiation
angle of 32° and a mass flux of 100 kg∕m2 ⋅ s, the increase in between current acoustic and lean detonation performance suggests
specific power was much more significant compared with the that further optimization may be required. It was expected that the
increase at other flow conditions. As the mass flux increased, the detonation cases would have outperformed the deflagration cases, but
specific power output also increased. However, the specific power at lean detonative conditions, lesser amounts of pressure gain are
seemed to be plateauing at the upper mass flux. The plateau was typical. Ideally, higher equivalence ratios will produce more power
stronger at the larger NGV angle as the 32° NGV angle (diamond) and shift this trend line.
outperformed the other two angles at the higher mass fluxes. This
could be due to separation of the flow off of the 39° NGV cascade or a B. Impact of Backpressure
general inability to turn the flow effectively. At the lower mass flux, The previous testing was conducted without backpressure on
the larger angle (39°) produced the highest specific power, sug- the compressor. Therefore, at a given speed the turbine only needed
gesting that the turbine preferred the larger incidence flow angle to extract the minimum amount of power necessary to drive the

Fig. 8 Specific power versus mass flux for RRDE operation.

6 Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL.
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Fig. 10 Specific power versus speed for a range of NGV angles and flow rates.

Fig. 11 Collapse of power versus speed for a range of NGV angles and flow rates.

compressor and any excess pressure exiting the turbine is effectively result was expected as the increased compressor backpressure should
a dump loss. Adding a backpressure to the compressor moves the make the turbine work harder, which would lead to an increase in the
operating point on the compressor map and can impact torque, speed, shaft power output. The effect was larger for the more open area ratio
and mass flow, thus shifting the turbine power required. This is (solid) than for the restricted turbine area ratio of 0.65 (shaded).
providing that the compressor does not stall. Overall, backpressuring Furthermore, the more restricted area ratio yielded a significantly
the compressor was an attempt to change the operating point to force lower power output. This was attributed to the backpressuring of the
the turbine to extract additional power from the flow. To investigate turbine that decreased the pressure ratio through the turbine. As the
this, two methods were used. First, the area ratio of the exhaust was area ratio was changed from 1.0 to 0.84 the exhaust total pressure
modified as seen in Fig. 5 to ratios of 1.0, 0.84, and 0.65. Second, the increased 31%, with another 10% increase as the area ratio was
compressor ball valve was restricted from 0 to 20° and to 40°. Each of decreased further to 0.65. The addition of backpressure plates simu-
these methods changed the operating point on the compressor map as lated the effects of adding additional stages of turbine or an exit
shown in Fig. 12. For each of these cases data were collected at a mass nozzle.
flux of 75 kg∕m2 ⋅ s and at an overall equivalence ratio of 0.6 to Figure 14 plots the relationship between the specific power output
avoid generating too much heat in the turbine. and the estimated turbine efficiency based on the ideal delta enthalpy
Figure 13 shows the impact of these changes on the turbine power in the system calculated with Eqs. (2) and (3). The plot clearly shows
output. The first takeaway from this plot is that for the ball valve angle the effects of varying the exit conditions of the compressor and the
of 40° a second distinct operating line was apparent. At this con- turbine. As the compressor was backpressured, there was an increase
dition, the ball valve provided too much backpressure to the com- in the turbine specific power and efficiency for a turbine exit area ratio
pressor and pushed the operating point outside of the surge boundary of 0.65. At the less restrictive area ratios, the turbine efficiency
for the compressor (as seen in Fig. 12). The compressor was operating dropped at the 20° ball valve angle. This was likely caused by the
below the assumed 58% efficiency, leading to the lower calculated EGT measurement not reaching steady state before the end of the
power. The change in the compressor ball valve revealed an increase run. As the turbine exit area was increased, the turbine efficiency
in the operating speed, as well as the specific power output. This also increased. The data suggest that the compressor should be
Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL. 7

Once again two trend lines appear based on equivalence ratio, with
the φ  0.5 trend line being lower, and shallower, than the φ  0.6
line. The result suggests that the detonating cases have a higher
overall efficiency despite a lower turbine efficiency. This could result
from an increase in the burning efficiency of the combustor when it is
operating in a detonative mode, thereby counteracting the lower
efficiency of the turbine and allow for higher thermal efficiency
overall. Extrapolating the detonative cases out to a turbine efficiency
of 33%, which was seen in the deflagrative cases, yields a thermal
efficiency of 14.5%. Improvement of the design of the NGV section
and the radial turbine could lead to higher turbine efficiencies that
could be realized as an increase in the thermal efficiency of the RRDE
BAT when operating in a detonative mode.
These results make it readily apparent that the calculated thermal
and turbine component efficiencies based upon the techniques used
in this paper do not appear promising relative to conventional turbo-
machinery or even the maximum reported efficiency for this turbine.
This is in large part due to the assumptions made in the calculations.
The limited CTAP and thermocouple measurements do not accu-
Downloaded by CARLETON UNIVERSITY on September 19, 2020 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/1.B37849

rately resolve the unsteady processes occurring between the RRDE

manifold and the turbine exit. Assessing efficiencies using the avail-
able upstream/downstream property measurements convolved the
performance of the RRDE inlet, RRDE combustor, NGV, turbine,
turbine exhaust duct, and exhaust backpressuring device. The impact
of turbine unsteadiness, whether it be spatial, temporal, or both, is
well documented elsewhere [15–19]. However, Naples et al. [2]
showed minimal turbine efficiency impact due to RDE unsteadiness,
even with RDE combustion directly coupled to a turbine NGV [20].
Fig. 12 Compressor map (modified from [12]).
Although it is possible that the RRDE in this work could exhibit
similar low turbine component losses, the available instrumentation
does not support the same conclusion. A more thorough resolution of
backpressured to the maximum extent possible. Doing so would RRDE combustor inlet/outlet and turbine component temperatures,
increase the load on the turbine for a given speed, which would move pressures, and mass flows would enable much clearer insight into the
the operating point of the turbine and may allow for a more efficient RRDE/turbine performances as the resultant performance is depen-
power extraction from the turbine. dent upon the component enthalpy fluxes. Such an assessment was
Finally, Fig. 15 plots the system thermal efficiency versus the done previously for turbine flows driven by a pulse detonation engine
calculated turbine efficiency. The thermal efficiency of the system [14], but such measurements are currently well beyond the scope of
was calculated based on the actual power output and the ideal heat this RRDE work. Note that if the NGV and turbine efficiencies
input into the system. This relation is given in Eq. (5) realized by Naples et al. [2] and Welsh et al. [20] can be applied to
this RRDE, the turbine component efficiency would be comparable
W_ t W_ t to conventional results (up to 70% turbine efficiency). Such an impact
ηth   (5) upon turbine efficiency in Figs. 13 and 14 could improve the overall
Qin _
m f LHV f thermal efficiency and specific power significantly. The current work
shows that turbine power can be extracted from the RRDE geometry,
where ηth is the thermal efficiency, Q_ in is the heat addition, m
_ f is the but subsequent research should deconvolve inlet/combustor/NGV/
fuel mass flow rate, and LHVf is the lower heating value of the fuel. turbine performance to address the performance issues.

Fig. 13 Power versus speed as a function of backpressure.

8 Article in Advance / HUFF ET AL.
Downloaded by CARLETON UNIVERSITY on September 19, 2020 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/1.B37849

Fig. 14 Turbine efficiency versus specific power delineated by equivalence ratio.

Fig. 15 Comparison of thermal efficiency and turbine efficiency.

V. Conclusions that performance can be improved. It is currently difficult to decon-

An RRDE was coupled with an automotive, RIT to test the feasibil- volve the inlet, combustor, NGV, and turbine performance, and thus
ity of using an RDE as a compact BAT. The device successfully direct comparison with conventional cycles requires further research.
operated in a detonative mode throughout the test matrix. After multi- With the successful operation of this device, another stepping stone has
ple tests, no significant damage was noticed on the turbine or its been laid in the quest for a detonation-cycle-based engine. This device
bearings. The performance of the device was studied with various inlet showed that detonation operation could be maintained with the addi-
angles of the NGVs. Data of output power across the range of angles, tion of a turbine in the exhaust, and that the turbine could sustain the
mass fluxes, and equivalence ratios were shown to collapse as a hostile environment of the detonation exhaust for short periods of
function of turbine speed. These results also showed the potential operation. Though additional research and improvements are needed
additional power extraction from the flow with the backpressuring of to continue the development of this device, the initial results showed
the compressor side of the turbocharger. Additionally, the turbine was promise for a functional power generation device based on the deto-
driven near its peak speed of 130 kRPM, creating upward of 60 kW of nation cycle.
power. Further increases in speed should provide additional power. The
first method of increasing the operating speed includes designing an References
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