In the last two decades, jet engines and gas turbines attempting constant-volume combustion without positive–displacement mechanisms have regained attention, mainly due to their theoretical high efficiency, potential low emissions, and compact design features. The idea can be traced back to experiments in the 1930’s and production of devices like the V1 missile motor and the Comprex® supercharger. Both for power generation and for aerospace applications, specific hardware and ingenious cycle designs are being developed to address known technological challenges. Different thermodynamic approaches and design methods are proposed to predict the performance potential of these periodic-unsteady wave machines. There have been experimental studies and successfully operated test-rigs that were sometimes shelved due to immediate economic concerns. These “lost” previous studies and experiences are worth reviewing amidst the increased attention to pulse detonation engine and wave-rotor applications proposed for gas turbine cycles by engine makers and government laboratories. In this review paper, our aim is to summarize the status and important efforts in this field. Recent research is highlighted by specific research groups worldwide attempting diverse applications. A compilation of promising applications is presented, to help focus efforts on future work needed.

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