Air-Breathing Plasma Jet Engine

Novel method to enable supersonic flight without hydrocarbon fuel combustion

Abstract

This turbojet engine technology is designed to enable supersonic flight at high gravitational and volumetric power density using electric plasma instead of hydrocarbon fuel combustion. This innovation from Georgia Tech offers the potential for a greatly reduced carbon footprint for air travel, while simultaneously lowering costs. 

Unlike conventional turbojet engines, which are heated by the combustion of a hydrocarbon fuel, this method compresses and directs air into a plasma chamber where heat is added by electric plasma. The heated air is subsequently expanded through a de Laval nozzle to transform heat into supersonic flow and thrust by expanding the hot gas to match ambient pressure conditions. This invention addresses the challenges of existing technologies, such as lack of thrust potential, by featuring an integrated electric compressor able to run pressure ratios of 3-30, similar in power to conventional turbojet engines.

Website

https://licensing.research.gatech.edu/technology/air-breathing-plasma-jet-engine

Benefits/Advantages

  • Sustainable: This invention has the potential to replace costly hydrocarbon fuel with a sustainable and cost-effective alternative.
  • Adaptable: Depending on the application, the plasma can be created and coupled by various means, including direct current electric arcs, radio frequency plasma, and microwave plasma.
  • Cost-saving: This invention has the potential to replace costly hydrocarbon fuel with a sustainable and cost-effective alternative.
  • Efficient design: To avoid the common problem of overheating the walls of the plasma chamber, this invention introduces a magnetic confinement that has the added benefit of allowing thrust vectoring of the jet.
  • Powerful: This design could offer vertical takeoff and landing capabilities in addition to forward thrust using the same jet engine.

Potential Commercial Applications

  • Air travel, including passenger airplanes
  • Space exploration

Contact Information

Georgia Tech Office of Technology Licensing
Email: techlicensing@gtrc.gatech.edu