I came across a NACA summary paper on the past 5 years of afterburner development and started reading cause it seemed interesting. However, a couple of pages in I scrolled back up and realized that it was written in 1956. How much have afterburners changed since then and would the information contained in the article still be relevant?
This article suggests that they have. To name a few:
- alluding to improvements in fuel diffusion
- adding additional igniters downstream of the first to even out the burn
- vectoring improvements to better keep the superheated gasses in the center and avoid overheating the structure at the sides
- introducing cool air in a ring around the superheated exhaust stream to aid in a smaller thermal footprint
- incorporation of stealth materials
Afterburners have changed, that’s true, but their change is not too drastic. The main operation principles and parts still remain the same. So the paper you read from 1950s is still applicable to a large degree. However as should any practicing engineer, you should keep yourself updated by following closely the recent research on them.
One main area of extensive research that is still going on nowadays and might have changed the most along with materials is the combustion efficiency and effective mixing of the fuel and air while keeping short afterburner lengths. Also combustion and flame stability have been important issues for which much research have been carried out.