UNSW Canberra hypersonics facility home to new hydrocarbon fuels technology


UNSW Canberra has today celebrated another significant milestone in defence research and discovery with the launch of a revolutionary prototype combustor that enables hypersonic flight.

The $9.7 Million Cooperative Research Centre Project (CRC-P) for Hydrocarbon Fuel Technology for Hypersonic Air Breathing Vehicles is funded by the Australian Government and has been led by defence and military technology company DefendTex.

The project is housed in UNSW Canberra’s free-piston shock tunnel facility, which has also been upgraded for hypersonic ignition testing.

UNSW Canberra Rector Professor Michael Frater says the university is quickly forging a reputation for excellence in the research area of hypersonics.

“This new technology developed as part of the CRC-P means our facility now has capability to investigate the ignition of hydrocarbon fuels at supersonic speeds.

“The combination of the shock tunnel, invented here in Australia by Professor Ray Stalker, and new ignition technologies developed by UNSW Canberra A/Prof Sean O’Byrne and his colleagues, enable supersonic ignition at higher speeds than those available in the current generation of jet engines.

“This technology will no doubt assist with Australia’s future defence capabilities,” he says.

Professor Frater says the project is a fantastic collaboration between partners including DefendTex, RMIT University and the Universität der Bundeswehr in Germany.

“We are proud to be part of this project which is an example of true collaboration led by DefendTex Pty Ltd, and sees us help continue Australia’s proud history of achievement in hypersonic flight,” he says.

“Partnerships like this are a natural fit for UNSW Canberra, particularly with the recent launch of our Defence Research Institute. Our mission for this institute is to deliver ground-breaking research that will enhance Australia’s security, and this project will certainly play an important role in that.”