Rolls-Royce makes investment in hypersonic and supersonic technology

Rolls-Royce has invested a reported £20m in deepening its partnership with a technology business to develop engines capable of supersonic and hypersonic flight.

The manufacturing giant had taken an equity stake in Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines in 2018 and has now increased its involvement as part of a wider funding round.

The extended partnership is to develop high-speed aircraft propulsion systems. It will also explore applications for Reaction Engines’ thermal management technology within civil and defence aerospace gas turbine engines and hybrid-electric systems.

Rolls-Royce director of global strategy and business development, Mark Thompson, said: “Reaction Engines’ thermal management skills, added to our suite of existing technologies and capabilities, will further assist us as we explore opportunities in supersonic and hypersonic aviation,” Thompson added.

“Building on our many decades of innovation, we will also explore the use of Reaction Engines’ technology within our aerospace gas turbines and its potential application in future hybrid-electric propulsion systems, as we look to make flying ever more efficient and sustainable.”

Rolls-Royce and Reaction Engines have previously worked together on the first phase of a UK Ministry of Defence contract on high-Mach advanced propulsion systems.

Mark Thomas, chief executive of Reaction Engines, described the deal as “a significant step forward” for its technology commercialisation plans.

He added: “We look forward to expanding our international collaboration with Rolls-Royce, a global leader in power systems, to bring to market a range of applications that will transform the performance and efficiency of aircraft engines, enable high speed – supersonic and hypersonic – flight and support the drive towards more sustainable aviation through innovative new technologies.”