The gas turbine has been an enormously successful power plant for aircraft and marine propulsion, and electric power generation, due to its lightweight, smooth and reliable operation, low emissions, and varied applications. Nevertheless, it is not very efficient in converting fuel energy to useful work, due to fundamental thermodynamic limitations imposed by turbo machinery technology.
In recent years, there is renewed interest in the potential high efficiency of alternative thermodynamic cycles and unsteady combustion systems for propulsion and gas turbine applications, with pulse detonation engines and wave rotors receiving significant attention. While wave rotors have been mostly used as dynamic pressure exchangers in previous efforts, the achievement of nearly constant-volume combustion inside rotor channels is a relatively new goal, and has been experimentally and numerically investigated. Such a pressure-gain combustion device, know as the (internal) combustion wave rotor, should yield a higher cycle thermal efficiency than conventional constant-pressure combustors. This presentation provides an overview of the latest developments in the field of combustion wave rotors, highlighting the ongoing joint research effort between Rolls Royce, IUPUI, and Purdue University to design, test, and commercialize the combustion wave rotor.