Queensland aerospace company develops world-first 'green' scramjet technology

Tuesday, 01 December, 2020 | Supplied by: BOC Limited

Queensland aerospace company Hypersonix Launch Systems will receive Australian Government funding to fast-track development of a reusable ‘green’ hypersonic scramjet capable of placing small satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The Australian Government will invest $956,000 through its Accelerating Commercialisation program to help the company develop a world-first prototype engine called ‘SPARTAN’.

Hypersonix co-founder and Head of Research and Development Dr Michael Smart said: “The global market for small satellites is developing fast and will be worth around $85 billion by 2028.”

Dr Smart is a leading Australian aerospace engineer specialising in scramjet technology.

“Our SPARTAN scramjet will power an unmanned, fully composite vehicle called ‘DELTA-VELOS’, pushing it to hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 12 before it releases its payload in LEO,” he said.

“What makes DELTA-VELOS so different from other launch vehicles is that it’s designed to be low cost, reliable and reusable, with zero net carbon emissions through the use of locally produced green hydrogen for fuel.

“We’re confident we will be able to achieve a rapid turnaround potentially as short as one week for launching small satellites into LEO.

“This is unprecedented and will give us an edge for years to come in the race to capture a slice of this lucrative space launch market for Australia.

“We’ve achieved an ideal combination of performance, reusability and sustainability in our design,” Dr Smart said.

“We’re cost-competitive because green hydrogen gives higher power than other fuels, while the reusability of our components allows the cost of the aircraft to be spread over many launches.”

Hypersonix has been working closely with BOC, a gas and engineering company, who is the leading provider of hydrogen solutions in the South Pacific.

“BOC has provided us with expert engineering advice on our fuel tanks as well as having the future capability to supply green hydrogen to power the SPARTAN scramjet. We look forward to continuing to work with them as we fast-track our development,” said Dr Smart.

BOC is supporting the growing space sector across the country with a range of supply solutions from liquid oxygen to liquid methane as well as technical welding gases for high-value metal components. BOC has a history of supporting the space sector across the globe as a member of the Linde group.

Over the next few years we will see thousands of satellites being placed into LEO.

These will help us in so many different ways, ranging from delivering better communications and entertainment options to helping our communities fight and recover from natural disasters like drought and bushfires.

While launching satellites will be the core business for Hypersonix for the first years, the company’s scramjet technology could be used to propel hypersonic passenger vehicles in the near future.

“We see a big opportunity for our scramjet technology, not only in the satellite market but for propelling passenger vehicles in the near future.

“We’re already thinking about other potential uses for our technology, especially its application for global tourism and business trips,” Dr Smart said.

“It will greatly reduce the travel time between cities — you would be able to fly from Sydney to London in around two hours, for example.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Movie Elements

Online: www.boc.com.au
Phone: 131 262
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