Rolls Royce invests £20m in hypersonic aircraft firm
Posted on August 21, 2020 by Alistair Hardaker
BusinessCloud’s South East Tech 50 winner Reaction Engines has announced a strategic partnership with Rolls-Royce to develop high-speed aircraft propulsion systems and explore applications for its thermal management technology within civil and defence aerospace gas turbine engines and hybrid-electric systems.
The partnership will also see Rolls pump £20m into the firm aerospace creating technology which can deal with temperatures associated with Mach 5 – five-times the speed of sound.
The partnership makes Rolls Royce a latest shareholder alongside BAE Systems and Boeing.
Reaction Engines was founded in 1989 by three propulsion engineers from Rolls Royce: Alan Bond, Richard Varvill and John Scott Scott.
The two companies have been working together since 2018, including on the first phase of a UK Ministry of Defence contract to undertake design studies, research, development, analysis and experimentation related to high-Mach advanced propulsion systems.
It has developed a Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine – SABRE – which contains precooler technology able to deal with extreme temperatures found at incredibly high speeds.
The company is based in Culham, Oxfordshire, UK and Denver, Colorado, US and employs over 200 staff across its sites.
“We have been working closely with Reaction Engines for the past two years, including exploring the potential of high-Mach systems for defence applications, and I am delighted that we are able to strengthen that relationship,” said Mark Thompson, Director of Global Strategy & Business Development, Rolls-Royce.
“This partnership follows our recent announcements with Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic.”
“Reaction Engines’ thermal management skills, added to our suite of existing technologies and capabilities, will further assist us as we explore opportunities in supersonic and hypersonic aviation,” Thompson added.
“Building on our many decades of innovation, we will also explore the use of Reaction Engines’ technology within our aerospace gas turbines and its potential application in future hybrid-electric propulsion systems, as we look to make flying ever more efficient and sustainable.
“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 commercialisation plans.
“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.”