5 mins read 27 Aug 2021

Hypersonix and PFI sign manufacturing agreement framework

Aerospace Company Hypersonix, who are developing a reusable green hydrogen powered scramjet, have signed a framework agreement with Engineering design and manufacturing specialist PFi Aerospace. The agreement will see the two companies work together on Hypersonix’s Delta Velos launch vehicle.  

Dr Andrew Dann, Engineering Manager Hypersonix (left) and Syed Zaid Nizami, Aerospace Test Engineer (right) working on the test rig at the PFI Aerospace site. Credit: Hypersonix.

Hypersonix, who recently announced an agreement with additive manufacturing company Romar and the successful demonstration of their SPARTAN scramjet, have taken the next step in their manufacturing journey, going on to also sign a new agreement with PFi Aerospace. 

The agreement signed by the two Brisbane-based companies outlines how they will work together through the ‘build phase’ of the prototype SPARTAN scramjet. 

“Hypersonix Launch Systems is certainly one Queensland space company to watch right now”, said PFi Aerospace CEO Nick Green. “Their innovative technology is impressive and we are very happy to give them a hand fabricating and testing components for their fifth-generation SPARTAN scramjet engine and their green hydrogen fuel system that goes with it. “

It is an exciting time for Hypersonix as they move to the manufacturing phase of the SPARTAN program according to Managing Director, David Waterhouse.

“We're now starting to build stuff, and I think for us, given that we don't really have a dearth of capability in Australia when it comes to the aviation or aerospace sector, what we're doing is working with strategic partners that are pivoting existing business that can apply to the aerospace sector.”

“And I think PFI is a really good example of that. A good established light manufacturing business. They've already started some work in the aerospace sector, both in the space program and doing some contract work in the defence sector as well. So, for us, it's just a very good fit and they are nice and local,” he said. 

“Scramjet technology powered by green hydrogen, also produced locally, will resonate with young people we feel who have a heightened awareness of environmental issues and a genuine desire to protect our precious biosphere”, Mr Green said.

“Our companies have a lot in common. We share an interest in encouraging greater participation in STEM at school and university and also greater participation in aerospace training and careers by women,” added Waterhouse.

PFI Aerospace

School children taking the HAILI rocket apart. Credit: PFI Aerospace.

PFI Aerospace, are the company behind the HAILI (Hybrid All-Inclusive Learning Instrument) rocket STEM project and the STELLA STEM program, supporting STEM in schools as well as the Skyfall threat simulator, developed for the defence industry. 

This innovative company has some unique manufacturing skills and are keen to share them with companies such as Hypersonix. 

“It's a case of identifying where their capabilities match our requirements today and also for having a road map for the future in terms of how they can grow their capabilities to meet our needs as well. So it is very synergistic in that regard,” said Waterhouse about the agreement. 

“We have in-house expertise and equipment at our Darra head office to support vibrant, innovative enterprises as they move from proof of concept to achieving significant scale,” said Green. “We feel that scramjet technology has great potential for Australia, right up there alongside more traditional rocket technology.”

“We are keen to see scramjet technology included in our Science of Rockets educational program, where we encourage high school students to follow a career path in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths, especially in our growing local space industry,” he concluded.

Manufacturing a Scramjet

Under the framework agreement, PFi Aerospace will be providing a suitable site for bench testing and operation and also providing access to other essential testing facilities, with all the bespoke parts required for the test rig being developed in collaboration with PFi Aerospace. 

“PFi’s expertise will boost our knowledge and capabilities and therefore shorten our time to market, reduce our risk and reduce our costs, “ said Waterhouse about the collaboration. 

“We are full steam ahead now on our build, something which makes any engineer’s heart beat faster. It is a very exciting time for our team, which has grown to 16 people over the past 12 months.”

“At the moment, what we're focusing on is we're doing some testing of the fuel system there. So we've got the test rig there for our fuel system. The fuel system for Delta-Velos will be a high-pressure hydrogen system, and this test rig they have put together at PFI is basically going to be using nitrogen,” said Waterhouse. 

This is due to the broad combustibility of hydrogen, so testing for leaks in the system with nitrogen is the preferred choice. 

“We've got the layout already done and we're going through the certification process at the moment, [such as] safety checks. We're hoping to start testing early next month. So all the bits and pieces are there, it's more just a case of now going through the process review and test plan,” added Waterhouse.

“This next half is going to be all about manufacturing and how we're stepping up both in the build, against the accelerating commercialisation grant and the plans to build the demonstrator. It's really all about finding those sectors in Australia, those companies in Australia that have a capability that we can use that we can pivot towards the aerospace/space industry,” he concluded.


Video - Credit Hypersonix