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Hypersonic Plane Fuel Could Also Be Used As Coolant – Through These Tiny Heat Exchangers

Hypersonic flights are deemed to be the future for fast and efficient transportation across the world. However, with such incredible high speed, there comes a backlash of overheating. The plane produces so much heat that it can catch fire mid-air and turn into a complete tragic disaster. Scientists may have found a solution to that.

There is a new 3D printed catalyst that might act as a cooler for the plane, and this could solve this issue for hypersonic flights. These planes go up to 6,100 km/h (3,790 mph) and the heat can be disastrous. Hence, a fuel that can repurpose as a cooling agent for the plane can change the game for hypersonic jets.

Hubesch and her colleagues used 3D printing to produce lattice structures made of metal alloys that were coated in synthetic minerals called zeolites. They are said to be miniature chemical reactors and are put through laboratory tests made specifically to mimic the extreme temperature and pressure fuels endure at hypersonic speeds. This showed that as the structures heated up, some of the metal like chromium shifts into the zeolite framework, which results in “unprecedented catalytic activity.”

The team is still working on proving that this can be the answer to the heat problems that are created. There are multiple kinds of tests being run like X-ray synchrotron techniques among other methods to study their function in greater detail and optimize their performance.

“Our lab tests show the 3D printed catalysts we’ve developed have great promise for fueling the future of hypersonic flight,” said Dr. Selvakannan Periasamy, who is leading this research.  The research is published in Chemical Communications.