Liquidpiston has received an Army grant for the next-gen drone engine

An organization that builds an innovative rotary internal combustion engine has just received a first-degree research grant from the U.S. Army to develop a hybrid-electric trend for the UAS. The development suggests that drones will play a central role in modern warfare, as well as hints that we’re going to see a lot of drone innovations in defense.

Liquidpiston, based in Connecticut, recently demonstrated its own proprietary X-Engine at a successful parallel hybrid UAV demonstration using jet fuel. Just as small satellites need to be redesigned in propulsion systems, the proliferation of UAVs in areas such as defense leads to the development of new engine designs that significantly increase energy efficiency.

The problem is that today’s power plants, electric or combustion-based, rely on decades-old technology and it shows. Gasoline engines are inefficient, diesel engines are large and heavy and weigh a lot more than the electric power / batteries they produce. These features present significant limitations in the range, payload and efficiency that current engines can achieve and increase operating costs. These limitations are no more obvious than in UAVs where the weight / power business needs to be focused on.

“When we re-imagined the rotary engine with the help of X-engine, we knew that its high power, weight, efficiency and ability to operate on heavy fuels including jets could increase power generation in many different ways. We / A / JP8 fuel that the Army exclusively uses Wants to do, ”said Alec Shoklonik, CEO and co-founder of LiquidPiston.

The company’s rotary engines, which can be made in 1000hp configurations up to 1000hp, are 10x smaller and lighter than traditional diesel engines and increase efficiency by 30%. Since, like other rotary designs, the engines have only two primary moving parts compared to the other two combustion engine designs, a shaft and rotor, size and vibration are kept to a minimum. The company insisted that its rotary engines are not wankle engines, which is by far the only commercial rotary. The engine was designed. By employing an almost triangular rotor cut during the combustion cycle, a Wankel engine forms a seal with the outer case of each of the three points of the triangular rotor as the seal rotor spins and those seals are subject to the forces that wear them.

Liquidpiston’s engine, on the other hand, uses an oval rotor that runs between triangular housing. The necessary seals are mounted on the stationary housing and lubricated directly, increasing the wear life and durability.

Liquidpiston’s X engine also doubles as an efficient auxiliary power unit, which makes it attractive to the Army, where access to electricity in remote areas is the primary concern.

Dr. William Cohen, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Army Assistant Secretary of Defense, said, “Improved power generation and alternative energy are important to the military, and we are constantly looking for new technologies that can materially improve our national security capabilities. Reliable engine technology that provides a wide range of sustainable applications from UAVs to auxiliary power units for air and ground vehicles, can reduce and reduce reliance on competitive or extended supply lines. “

In a UAV application, the weight-saving engine enables vertical takeoff and landing, which increases the time to use as well as the flight time.

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