Lockwood-Hiller Valveless Pulsejet Engine

Project Type: Applied Acoustics

This project was COMPLETED.

Date completed: February 2015.

View the student paper (PDF).

Project Information

Project Description:

Lockwood-Hiller Valveless Pulsejet EngineThe task is to design, build and test a Lockwood-Hiller style valveless pulsejet engine.  The engine will be powered by propane and ignited by a timed electric spark.  The engine body is an all-welded assembly made from stainless steel to avoid structural collapse at high temperature.  The engine is mounted on a trailer for transportation and rests on a sliding table to measure thrust.  Other performance measurements include time-varying temperature and pressure data sampled at various locations.  Measured data will be compared with simulations using a MATLAB- based model of the engine.  Performance enhancement experiments will include tests with vaporized liquid fuel plus the installation of thrust augmenters at both ports.  The optimized engine will become the propulsion package on a student-build vehicle (go-kart), as a separate follow-on project.

Level of Difficulty: Medium


deflagration, detonation, stoichiometry, Helmholtz resonator, quarter-wave resonator, pressure node, standing waves, fundamental frequency


Bruno Ogorelec, “Valveless Pulsejet Engines 1.5 – a historical review of valveless pulsejet designs,” http://www.pulse-jets.com/valveless/index.htm

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html calculates air-column resonances and Helmholtz cavity resonances http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html

Team Roles

Electrical Engineer (2) – Electrical Engineers on the project are responsible for the design, construction, and development of a high-voltage ignition system with timing feedback.  Triggering the spark in the propane-air mixture is governed by pressure and acoustic-frequency feedback to optimize the combustion timing with the engine’s natural rhythm.

Mechanical Engineer (2) – Mechanical Engineers on the project are responsible for the design and construction of a thrust table and trailer transport system to support the engine for demonstrations.  The thrust table allows the engine to move against a force pad that measures thrust and displays the numbers on a large screen for all to see.  The trailer and thrust table must be protected against the engine’s radiated heat flux by thermal shielding.  Additionally, the display must be safe for public viewing and legal for towing on the highway.

Aerospace Engineers (2) – The Aerospace Engineers are responsible for the Lockwood-Hiller design and its validation by a MATLAB model (Zheng, 2009).  Furthermore, the Aerospace Engineers will design and develop the fuel feed system and locate the diagnostic ports for temperature and pressure measurements.

Computer Scientist (2) – Computer Scientists on the project are responsible for the data acquisition system that records and displays pressure, temperature, spark timing, and thrust.  Additionally, the Computer Scientists will develop an acoustic model of the engine design and simulate the acoustic tuning using the new k-Wave tool for MATLAB (Smith, 1987).

Designer (2) – Project Designers are responsible for smoothly integrating the thrust table, trailer, engine, and diagnostics into an assembly that is safe to operate, demonstrate and tow.  Designers will supervise the engine welding and perform a leak test on the engine to assure volume integrity.  Furthermore, Designers will use CAD illustrations to guide the modifications on the final engine.

Journalist (1) – The Journalist documents the project’s progress on the website, communicates with the local media, and is responsible for a final report to the principal sponsors and Power Mountain Engineering.  The Journalist also works closely with the Multimedia Artist to provide video and graphic art displays for demonstrations that explain the project to the public.  The whole project is your project.

Multimedia Artist (1) – The Artist also documents the project’s progress on the website and works with the Journalist to maintain the project’s presence on social media.  Additionally, the Artist designs and organizes all public relations events to assure spectator safety and to enhance the community’s awareness of science and technology.  In this case, displays must be enjoyed from a safe perimeter that protects the crowd’s hearing.  The whole project is your project.

Business Manager (1) – The Business Manager is responsible for reporting the project’s progress against a predetermined schedule, determines critical path items to completion, and tracks project spending to assure that costs remain within a fixed budget.  The Manager works with all team members to identify problems early and resolve them quickly.  The whole project is your project.

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