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Pangea Aerospace, an innovative company developing more efficient rocket engines, and Aenium Additive Systems, an engineering company specializing in AM technologies and complex materials science, have sealed an industrial partnership for the development and industrialization of advanced combustion devices such as the aerospike rocket engine, focused on advanced 3D printing processes and materials.
The formalized agreement between the two companies ensures a breakthrough in the development of complex combustion devices and advances the analysis of various types of advanced superalloys that have so far been untreated for the most demanding applications in the aerospace sector.
As part of the agreement, Pangea has entrusted the newly formed team with the R&D, manufacturing and industrialization of their new aerospike demonstrator to conduct a successful hot fire test by the end of 2021. Pangea is one of the European companies working on the development of reusable starting systems. In addition, the partnership will bring the first industrialized GRCop 42 unit to the EU market, giving other space companies access to the most advanced propulsion solutions through additive manufacturing.
For Adrià Argemi, CEO of Pangea Aerospace, “Aenium is the perfect partner to get on our roadmap quickly and we are very excited to sign an agreement with a cutting-edge additive manufacturing start-up like this one. The agreement with Aenium extends beyond the exclusive shared capabilities in Europe at GRCop42, a copper material specially developed for rocket engines. Aenium also brings unmatched expertise and R&D capacity in processes and materials. GRCop42-based alloys are one of the key solutions that allow us to solve the thermal challenges of aerospike rocket jet engines. We are now ready to offer this unique capability to the entire European aerospace sector. “
GRCop-42 is a highly conductive, high strength alloy for use in high heat flux applications such as liquid rocket engines and other combustion devices. This copper-chromeniobium alloy developed by NASA was specially developed for harsh environments for regeneratively cooled combustion chambers and nozzles with good oxidation resistance.
Using aerospike, GRCop42 and additive manufacturing, Pangea Aerospace is developing the long-sought aerospike nozzle for rocket engines with an innovative approach. The aerospike engine can radically change space propulsion thanks to its higher efficiency (up to 15% than currently used rocket engines), its reusability and its very inexpensive and fast production. The company is currently manufacturing DemoP1 and will run a hot-fire campaign in the third quarter of 2021.
DemoP1 is a liquid oxygen and methane aerospike engine demonstrator designed to characterize and validate several key technologies for future aerospike developments: the use of methane as a fuel, its manufacturing methodology developed in collaboration with Aenium dual regenerative cooling system – using both propellants for cooling – and the design for reusability.
Several aerospike engines have been developed or designed in history (J-2T, XRS-2200, and RS-2200), but none have ever flown. This is due to the technical difficulties historically associated with aerospike nozzles: cooling and manufacturing. Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques and new materials like GrCop42 improve the ability to build a functional and economically viable aerospike engine at a fraction of the cost and time.
The holy grail of propulsion is now closer thanks to this agreement between Pangea Aerospace and Aenium. Pangea Aerospace has already begun preliminary design of its larger, commercially available aerospike engine and subsystems, which will benefit from this collaboration. Last but not least, the agreement opens the door to a joint service between Pangea Aerospace and Aenium for the European aerospace sector in order to gain access to state-of-the-art materials. Aenium brings its expertise in materials science and additive manufacturing processes and Pangea Aerospace brings its expertise in propulsion system design. According to Miguel Ampudia, CIO of Aenium, “This alliance will drive the next generation of reusable rocket engines and also allow the EU market to upgrade their combustion devices with the most innovative materials science and skilled industrial additive manufacturing.”