This article was published more than 5 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current.
Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.
The Skreemr is an aircraft concept that would be launched at very high speed with the help of a magnetic railgun launching system. Rockets would increase the aircraft speed enough to ignite its main scramjet engine, making it possible to reach speeds over Mach 10.
Scramjet engine designs are being developed right now by the U.S. and China. It will take years to see them on factory-built military drones, but maybe in the distant future they could be used to fly passengers across oceans at very high speed.
The Skreemr concept aims to ignite your imagination around this idea. I added the idea of using a non-rocket space launch system and conventional rockets to accelerate the aircraft initially. I am aware that the challenge of defining such an aircraft is complex, especially at lower altitude where the air is dense and heat accumulates rapidly on all surfaces.
How it works
The Skreemr would need to be launched from an electric launch system. This device would make it possible to accelerate the aircraft to high speed. This system would need to be long enough to achieve supersonic speed without taxing the passengers with too much g-force.
The Skreemr would then ignite liquid-oxygen / kerosene rockets to rise up in altitude and reach a speed of Mach 4 (or maintain it after being released from the railgun). The plane would then ignite its scramjet engine and burn hydrogen and compressed oxygen to continue its acceleration.
It might be possible to skip the rocket part which would be in use from maglev launch to the scramjet ignition, but this would depend on two things: the materials used to withstand the heat and pressure on the aircraft, and the acceleration that could be sustained by the occupants of the aircraft.
What it’s used for
The Skreemr would be used as a commercial aircraft to fly from one continent to the next. It would fly five times faster than the Concorde and it could carry around 75 passengers. The magnetic railgun could use clean electricity to launch the aircraft, and the rockets and scramjets could burn hydrogen manufactured with hydro-electricity.
I would like to thank Ray Mattison from Design Eye-Q who created the renderings of the Skreemr concept. Mattison is based near Duluth, Minn. He studied at the College for Creative Studies, and he has worked for Cirrus Aircraft and Exodus Machines. Mattison also created the images of the Icarus wingless aircraft and Argentic search and rescue concepts.
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