Queensland aerospace company Hypersonix Launch Systems has placed an order with Victorian manufacturer Amiga Engineering for the additive engineering build of the SPARTAN scramjet.

SPARTAN is Hypersonix’ fifth-generation scramjet. It is a fixed-geometry self-igniting hydrogen-powered scramjet capable of accelerating from Mach 5 to Mach 12. SPARTAN’s fixed geometry means it has no moving parts, so the design lends itself to 3D printing (3DP). This reduces both the cost and time to produce the scramjet, while potentially adding to reliability and performance. Additive manufacturing allows the creation of parts that h

ave a complex design, and is perfect for light-weighting, which is essential for the space industry.

SPARTAN uses green hydrogen for fuel, so creates no CO2 emissions. The hydrogen fuel also allows Hypersonix to utilise regenerative cooling on the combustor, in turn allowing the use of readily available high-temperature alloys in place of more expensive and complex high-temperature composites.

David Waterhouse, Managing Director and co-founder of Hypersonix said: “The use of additive engineering to manufacture a scramjet engine will fundamentally disrupt the cost structure of scramjets and an important step in providing more affordable access to hypersonic flight. We are very proud of Australia’s world leading heritage in hypersonics and the ability of Australian companies to work together to demonstrate of sovereign capability in this new Space technology.”

Additive manufacturing is one of the key elements mentioned in the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which among others includes priorities such as space, defence and clean energy. The SPARTAN scramjet is being manufactured under an Accelerating Commercialisation grant that the Federal Government awarded Hypersonix in August 2020. Under this grant, Hypersonix is building a flight ready scramjet engine and fuel system.

Hypersonix has been able to leverage the growing global hydrogen economy to repurpose off-the-shelf high-pressure composite hydrogen tanks. Hypersonix completed shock tunnel testing of SPARTAN in March 2021 and has completed the final design and thermal modelling of the scramjet. The project is on budget and in schedule and due for completion in March 2022.

“In a demanding industry such as aerospace, additive manufacturing offers the cutting edge in component manufacture capable of creating very complex parts in some of the most exotic materials,” said Michael Bourchier, Managing Director and founder of Amiga Engineering. “With thousands of hours of research and development in every part, the aerospace industry settles for nothing but the best. We are extremely excited to work with Hypersonix Launch systems on the world’s first 3D printed fixed geometry scramjet engine.”