The research and development of a unique combustion engine is presented. The engine converts the thrust from ramjet modules located on the rim of a disk into shaft torque, which in turn can be used for electrical power generation or mechanical drive applications. A test program was undertaken that included evaluation of the pre-prototype engine and incorporation of improvements to the thrust modules and supporting systems. Fuel mixing studies with vortex generators and bluff body flame holders demonstrated the importance of increasing the shear-layer area and spreading angle to augment flame volume. Evaluation of flame-holding configurations (with variable fuel injection methods) concluded that the heat release zone, and therefore combustion efficiency, could be manipulated by judicious selection of bluff body geometry, and is less influenced by fuel injection distribution. Finally, successful operation of novel fuel and cooling air delivery systems have resolved issues of gas (fuel and air) delivery to the individual rotor segments. The lessons learned from the pre-prototype engine are currently being applied to the development of a 2.8MW engine.

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