Rolls-Royce to develop high-speed aircraft propulsion systems with Reaction Engines

Hypersonic propulsion has seen very significant advances during the last more than two decades. Space agencies and several private companies have made significant efforts in recent years to develop their own state-of-the-art propulsion systems. One of them is Rolls-Royce. It has been working closely with Reaction Engines for the past two years with the shared ambition of developing turbines that could be used in both supersonic and hypersonic aviation.

Now, the two companies have announced a new strategic partnership agreement to develop high-speed aircraft propulsion systems. As part of the agreement, both companies will explore applications for Reaction Engines’ thermal management technology within civil and defense aerospace gas turbine engines and hybrid-electric systems.

The partnership will explore applications for Reaction Engines’ thermal management technology
The partnership will explore applications for Reaction Engines’ thermal management technology. Credit: Reaction Engines

Reaction Engines has developed a turbine which it calls SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine), which can operate in both normal flights and in space. It is capable of propelling an aircraft to go from zero to five times the speed of sound and even faster in space flight. In addition, they have confirmed that in the future, they hope to be able to use it in space vehicles that will develop even higher speeds.

This technology seeks to increase the efficiency, sustainability, and reliability of air transport, significantly reduce polluting emissions and simplify turbine maintenance, so the possibility of this technology giving a boost to hybrid powertrains is undoubtedly good news.

This strategic partnership is about developing market-ready applications for Reaction Engines’ technology in next-generation engines and is a significant step forward for our technology commercialization plans,said Mark Thomas, Chief Executive of Reaction Engines.

Our proprietary heat exchanger technology delivers incredible heat transfer capabilities at extremely low weight and compact size. We look forward to expanding our international collaboration with Rolls-Royce, a global leader in power systems, to bring to market a range of applications that will transform the performance and efficiency of aircraft engines, enable high speed – supersonic and hypersonic – flight and support the drive towards more sustainable aviation through innovative new technologies.”

This announcement comes after Rolls-Royce’s recent partnerships with Virgin Galactic and Boom Supersonic, a startup competing to bring a new supersonic aircraft to the market.

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