Research database

EnaTech-RDE - Enabling Technologies for Turbine Design in CO2-Free Rotating Detonation Engines

24 months (2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
Funding body:
MINISTERO (Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca)
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


Notwithstanding the impact caused worldwide by COVID-19 pandemic on the industrial sector, the global energy demand already shows a growing trend. Contextually, the current crisis in Ukraine obliges EU to move towards self-sustained energy scenarios. Also, the objective of a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 pushes to an increasing use of renewable energy sources, which requires the adoption of storage technologies to balance the associated non-programmable power generation. The use of energy vectors such as hydrogen carriers seems to be the most effective strategy to store energy as it is possible to adopt these green fuels in Gas Turbines (GT), which are key technologies to balance energy supply and demand. Despite the last 3 decades have seen significant improvements in GT-related technologies with relevant step forwards in terms of emissions reduction, breakthrough innovations are still limited to the use of Joule-Brayton cycle. The objective of the EnaTech-RDE project is to contribute to the development of the Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE) as an innovative concept for the next generation GT, which is able to efficiently employ hydrogen as fuel. The adoption of a combustion process that occurs through a rotating detonation wave inside of a circular chamber allows for realizing a Pressure Gain Combustion (PGC) cycle, thus providing an increase of the overall thermodynamic efficiency up to 15% for a small/medium GT size. RDE is the most promising PGC solution thanks to the high frequency of the unsteady flow at combustor outlet that facilitates a proper turbine feeding. In fact, an efficient coupling between the Rotating Detonation Combustor (RDC) and the turbine is of paramount importance since theoretical efficiency improvement associated to the modified cycle may be overcome by the dramatic reduction of the turbine efficiency. In the EnaTech-RDE project, research units from POLIMI and POLITO face the critical aspect of RDC/turbine coupling by designing enabling technologies for RDEs, while considering the impact of the developed solutions on the overall system performance. POLIMI oversees the analysis of the thermodynamic cycle, the design of optimal sub/supersonic stages, the design of a fluctuating system for its state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility where the newly designed high-pressure vanes are tested, and the verification of the stage design in cooled configuration. POLITO oversees the design of transition ducts, which are able to provide the proper flow condition to the turbine and to weaken flow fluctuations coming from an RDC, the design of the cooling system for vanes, and the coupled simulations of ducts and vanes. Eventually, the fluctuating conditions from the ducts, the designed geometries and the experimental data will be made available in an open access form. The obtained results provide a tangible increase in the knowledge of RDE-related technologies, thus contributing to future practical adoption of the concept.





ERC sectors

PE8_5 - Fluid mechanics, hydraulic-, turbo-, and piston engines
PE8_6 - Energy processes engineering

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 7. Assicurare a tutti l’accesso a sistemi di energia economici, affidabili, sostenibili e moderni|Obiettivo 13. Promuovere azioni, a tutti i livelli, per combattere il cambiamento climatico*


Total cost: € 240,918.00
Total contribution: € 196,698.00
PoliTo total cost: € 79,790.00
PoliTo contribution: € 79,790.00