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Aerojet Rocketdyne to Mature Rotating Detonation Engine Technology in Cooperation with Department of Energy

Written by: developer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Nov. 29, 2016) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), has signed a cooperative agreement with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of the U.S. Department of Energy to develop air-breathing rotating detonation engine (RDE) technology that could enable the combined cycle efficiency of natural gas-fueled power plants to exceed 65 percent — a significant improvement over current technology.

The RDE agreement, valued at $6.8 million, is for the Phase II program that provides value to the Department of Energy by leveraging ongoing RDE development activities and expertise of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s work with Purdue University, University of Michigan, University of Alabama, University of Central Florida and Southwest Research Institute.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne provides innovative solutions for not only defense and space industry applications, but also to help mature RDE technology for use in the energy industry through the National Energy Technology Lab,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “This Phase II program is a significant addition to our portfolio of rotating detonation engine technology development programs for the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense.”

The technology will enable combined cycle efficiency gains by capturing the increased performance of pressure gain combustion within the combustion assembly, and reducing the flow variations resulting from RDE combustion to levels that are acceptable to upstream compressors and downstream turbines.

This follow-on agreement builds upon the success of an initial Phase I program, completed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, which demonstrated operation of an RDE fueled by natural gas at conditions simulating operation in a full-scale gas turbine power plant. To date, Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed more than 650 hot-fire and related development tests to mature this key technology. The company is concurrently developing RDEs for propulsion applications for the Department of Defense.

“We are excited about this opportunity to advance the state-of-the-art in rotating detonation engine technology, which could enable significant gains in efficiency across a wide operating range,” said Tyler Evans, vice president of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Rocket Shop℠ Defense Advanced Programs. “The mechanical simplicity of the technology we are developing leads us to believe it can be applied and provide benefits to a wide spectrum of applications.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can be obtained by visiting our websites at and

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Glenn Mahone, 202-302-9941, [email protected]