We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Afterburner?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An afterburner is a piece of equipment used on many modern jets which burns additional fuel in the exhaust trail to provide extra propulsion. Afterburners are most commonly found on military airplanes, though they have been used on a handful of supersonic civilian aircraft.

Jet engines operate by igniting fuel and spitting out mass behind them to create forward momentum. Jet turbines pull air in from the outside environment, compress it to a high density, add a fuel mix to the oxygen, and ignite it. This process is very efficient, but far from perfect.

When the mix comes out the exhaust end of the jet engine, there is still a substantial quantity of oxygen remaining in it. An afterburner is used to take advantage of that remaining oxygen, by dumping more fuel into it and igniting the mix.

Afterburners are extremely inefficient, and are used primarily because they are such a simple component to add to a jet engine. Rather than adding weight and complexity to the engine, one adds a relatively small injector and tube behind the engine proper. With this small apparatus added on, a jet engine can receive a boost of up to 50% on an already very efficient engine.

Since afterburners are so inefficient, they are used sparingly on military aircraft. The primary use of an afterburner is during takeoff from a very limited runway space (such as an aircraft carrier or jungle runway) and when an extra boost will give a distinct combat advantage in an air skirmish.

Afterburners also produce a large, Bunsen-burner-like flame out of the back of the jet engine, giving them enormous visual appeal. When most people think of a fighter jet taking off, the most vivid image that appears is that of the enormous torch propelling the jet along.

The term afterburner may also be used when discussing incinerators. In this context, an afterburner is a very hot flame added to the process to remove virtually all smell and remaining particulate matter (in the form of smoke) from the output of incineration.

In a more general sense, an afterburner can be viewed as any second-tier flame system, either used to utilize some bit of energy or to eliminate particulate matter from waste gasses.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.