How Does an Aircraft Afterburner Work?

Heating and exhausting gases in select aircraft, afterburners are a unique tool for many fixed-wing vehicles utilizing turbojet or turbofan gas turbine engines. Also known as ‘reheat’ or the second combustion chamber within an engine that is situated directly in front of an exhaust nozzle, an afterburner may be found attached to the exhaust-end of a jet engine. Coming affixed to engine systems composed of compressors and combustion chambers, units with  afterburners are incapable of functioning without all parts of an engine operating simultaneously. To better understand the fundamentals of an afterburner and how they help certain aircraft achieve speeds once thought of as unobtainable, we will go into detail on why these parts are valuable and what sets them apart in the evolution of aviation history.

An additional component to some engine systems, afterburners are a complimentary tool often utilized by aircraft to meet requirements for high performance flight and superior speeds. Originally designed by Secondo Campini in 1942, afterburners and their specialized parts are now primarily applied to military supersonic aircraft. Aiding such aircraft by employing additional thrust, afterburners effectively create enough force to break the sound barrier or generally increase airspeed.

Increasing thrust by upwards of fifty percent, the process of creating propulsion through the use of exhaust can be achieved by reigniting and expanding residual oxygen found in the exhaust streams of jet engines. Intentionally used when an engine is functioning at its peak performance, afterburners allow further combustion processes to occur at the highest possible temperature and pressure achievable within the engine. Harnessing any remaining oxygen present after combustion, afterburning can only be achieved in the exhaust turbine segment of an engine with the implementation of an afterburner and its primary parts: an adjustable nozzle, a tube and flame holder, and fuel injectors. Working as a secondary propulsion method and not always needed, afterburners are capable of being turned on and off during flight.

As afterburners provide aircraft with a punch of thrust necessary to break the sound barrier and are required for situations requiring takeoff on short runways like those found on aircraft carriers, they require tremendous amounts of fuel when in use. Including the fuel needed for an engine to undergo the combustion process necessary to achieve flight, afterburners will take fuel from the aircraft's primary supply when additional power is created. Albeit for their lack of endurance, afterburners are the top solution for specialized, high-performance vehicles that should be used sparingly.

Whether you are an aircraft engineer or enthusiast, knowing what parts comprise your aircraft's engine and how to replace them can always be helpful in the long run. When you are in need of selected parts for your rocket engine or aircraft afterburners, look no further than Internet of Components. We are your trusted source for numerous aircraft turbines, compressors, fuel injectors, nozzles, flame holders, exhaust turbines, and their parts and components. Due to our quality control and export compliance, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. If you would like to request a quote for your comparisons, you can submit an RFQ form as provided on our website. Upon receipt, a dedicated account manager will quickly review and respond with a personalized solution to your needs in just 15 minutes or less, 24/7x365.


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