LiquidPiston to develop fuel-efficient rotary combustion engine technologies for US military

26 April 2015 (Last Updated April 26th, 2015 18:30)

LiquidPiston has signed an agreement with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop fuel-efficient, lightweight, rotary combustion engine technologies for the US military.

X Mini

LiquidPiston has signed an agreement with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop fuel-efficient, lightweight, rotary combustion engine technologies for the US military.

Under the $1m agreement, the company will advance the development of its highly efficient, power-dense rotary internal combustion engine for portable and small-engine applications.

LiquidPiston will demonstrate a pathway towards a rotary Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8) fuelled engine that can lower fuel consumption by 50% and increase power density.

LiquidPiston Founder and chief technical officer and DARPA effort co-principal investigator Dr. Nikolay Shkolnik said: "Today's diesel / JP-8 engines and generators are extremely heavy.

"A typical 3kW heavy-fuel generator weighs over 300lb, requiring six people to move it around.

"LiquidPiston's engine technology may enable a JP-8 generator of similar output weighing less than 30lb that could fit in a backpack."

The agreement focuses on demonstrating a pathway to a heavy-fuelled engine that can deliver more than 50% average brake efficiency, 57% peak brake efficiency and high-power density using a test-bed environment, which will reduce fuel consumption by approximately one half, compared to legacy piston engines.

"LiquidPiston's engine technology may enable a JP-8 generator of similar output weighing less than 30lb that could fit in a backpack."

LiquidPiston is funding 40% of the project, which will demonstrate key enabling components of the engine technology, as well as initial experiments with JP-8, a kerosene-based jet fuel used widely by the US military.

The company has already developed prototypes that have validated the principles and confirmed compression ignition of diesel and JP-8 fuels.

According to the LiquidPiston, increase in military engine fuel efficiency will save lives of soldiers who transport and protect fuel on the front lines and are prone to attack, and save money in fuel and transportation logistics costs, while reducing the military's carbon footprint.

In addition, the move could help extend mission times by allowing engine-powered equipment, like unmanned air vehicles to operate longer on the same amount of fuel, while enable lighter, more compact equipment designs and further improving operational range and payload capabilities.


Image: LiquidPiston will advance development of its highly efficient, power-dense rotary internal combustion engine, the X Mini, under a new agreement with DARPA. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.