Powered by MOMENTUM MEDIA

Website Notifications

Get notifications in real-time for staying up to date with content that matters to you.

RMIT aims to propel hypersonic flight with 3D printed catalysts

A range of experimental designs for the 3D printed catalysts. Credit: RMIT University

Ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts developed by researchers at RMIT University, are tipped to solve the challenge of overheating in hypersonic aircraft.

Ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts developed by researchers at RMIT University, are tipped to solve the challenge of overheating in hypersonic aircraft.

The highly versatile catalysts are designed to be cost-effective to make and simple to scale in order to offer a revolutionary solution to thermal management across countless industries.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The team at RMIT lab demonstrations show the 3D printed catalysts could potentially be used to power hypersonic flight while simultaneously cooling the system.

According to lead researcher Dr Selvakannan Periasamy, their work tackled one of the biggest challenges in the development of hypersonic aircraft: controlling the incredible heat that builds up when planes fly at more than five times the speed of sound.

“Our lab tests show the 3D printed catalysts we’ve developed have great promise for fuelling the future of hypersonic flight,” Dr Periasamy said.

“Powerful and efficient, they offer an exciting potential solution for thermal management in aviation – and beyond.

“With further development, we hope this new generation of ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts could be used to transform any industrial process where overheating is an ever-present challenge.”

PROMOTED CONTENT

In theory, a hypersonic aircraft could travel from London to Sydney in four hours but many challenges remain in the development of hypersonic air travel, such as the extreme heat levels.

First author and PhD researcher Roxanne Hubesch added that using fuel as a coolant was one of the most promising experimental approaches to the overheating problem.

“Fuels that can absorb heat while powering an aircraft are a key focus for scientists, but this idea relies on heat-consuming chemical reactions that need highly efficient catalysts,” Hubesch said.

“Additionally, the heat exchangers where the fuel comes in contact with the catalysts must be as small as possible, because of the tight volume and weight constraints in hypersonic aircraft.”

To make the new catalysts, the team 3D printed tiny heat exchangers made of metal alloys and coated them with synthetic minerals known as zeolites.

The researchers replicated extreme temperatures and pressures experienced by the fuel at hypersonic speeds at lab scale, to test the functionality of their design.

When the 3D printed structures heat up, some of the metal moves into the zeolite framework– a process crucial to the unprecedented efficiency of the new catalysts.

“Our 3D printed catalysts are like miniature chemical reactors and what makes them so incredibly effective is that mix of metal and synthetic minerals,” Hubesch said.

“It’s an exciting new direction for catalysis, but we need more research to fully understand this process and identify the best combination of metal alloys for the greatest impact.”

The next steps for the research team from RMIT’s Centre for Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry (CAMIC) include optimising the 3D printed catalysts by studying them with X-ray synchrotron techniques along with other in-depth analysis methods.

The researchers also hope to extend the potential applications of the work into air pollution control for vehicles and miniature devices to improve indoor air quality - especially important in managing airborne respiratory viruses like COVID-19.

According to distinguished professor and CAMIC director Suresh Bhargava, the trillion-dollar chemical industry was largely based on old catalytic technology.

“This third generation of catalysis can be linked with 3D printing to create new complex designs that were previously not possible,” Bhargava said.

“Our new 3D printed catalysts represent a radical new approach that has real potential to revolutionise the future of catalysis around the world.”

The 3D printed catalysts were produced using Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) technology in the Digital Manufacturing Facility, part of RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct.

To date, only a few experimental planes have reached hypersonic speed (defined as above Mach 5 – over 6,100km/h or 1.7km/s). The results of the RMIT research is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Chemical Communications.

[Related: Elbit Systems of Australia backs AMC endeavour]

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Journalist – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans issues, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! 7 and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. She started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

RMIT aims to propel hypersonic flight with 3D printed catalysts
3D-printed-catalyst-RMIT_dc.jpg
lawyersweekly logo

The inaugural Defence Connect AIC Summit will place you with key decision-makers and stakeholders within the defence industry to discuss the government’s intention to improve AIC and increase the nation’s sovereign production, defence capability and resilience. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this event, register for free today to attend the live stream on 22 October. Register your interest to attend, visit: www.defenceconnect.com.au/aic-summit

more from defence connect

Sep 22 2021
RAN farewells Japanese Navy vessels
Two Japanese ships have departed Darwin following a bilateral exercise with the Royal Australian Navy. ...
Sep 22 2021
Boeing Australia unveils manufacturing facility for Loyal Wingman
A new Queensland-based manufacturing hub for the next-generation unmanned aircraft has been announced.  ...
Sep 22 2021
German Bundeswehr awards armoured vehicle contract to Rheinmetall
The German Bundeswehr awarded Rheinmetall with a contract to modernise the military’s NBC reconnaissance vehicle, the company co...