Pratt and Whitney acquires propulsion technology business

Pratt and Whitney, a division of United Technologies, has purchased the Astronautics and Aerosciences Division (AASD) of Adroit Systems (ASI).

The Seattle-based division of ASI has developed leading-edge technology in fluid mechanics and advanced combustion concepts. Its work in pulse detonation engine (PDE) technology holds great promise for advanced gas turbines, rocket and other applications. The unit, based in Bellevue, Washington, employs approximately 25 people. It will be renamed the Pratt & Whitney Seattle Aerosciences Center and be part of Pratt & Whitney’s Advanced Engines Program organisation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The inherent mechanical simplicity of the pulse detonation engine, as compared to turbomachinery, offers the potential for reduced procurement and reduced total life cycle costs.

The increased thermal efficiency of the PDE cycle (as compared to the ideal Brayton cycle used to model turbomachinery, ramjets) also offers the potential of increased performance in terms of fuel economy. Potentially, the technology could be integrated into hybrid PDE-Turbine engines to produce a next generation of highly efficient commercial, as well as military, engines.

ASI has been developing the PDE since 1992. Initial tests started with simple ‘single shot’ detonation tubes. Advancements moved to multiple cycle tests in single combustors, first with solenoid valves, and then with ASI’s patented rotary valve. Tests then progressed to multiple combustor apparatus at higher frequency.

ASI is part of a multi-corporation industry team that is leading the development of the pulse detonation engine. The team is comprised of Boeing, United Technologies (both Pratt & Whitney and the United Technologies Research Center), and ASI.