News, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engine aircraft.
In 1998, one diesel engine flew on a converted airplane for the first time since 1945. Today, close to 4,000 singles and twins are flying. This is the beginning of a worldwide trend which will eventually allow a rebirth of the piston-engined aircraft, around new specs and new missions.
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News of October 21, 2010
What the Transformer will look like...
If a Wankel diesel engine can deliver this, it might have a bright future some time!
posted at 8:49 AM
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne awarded DARPA contract to design diesel Wankel engine for Transformer flying vehicle
Press release from Pratt & Whitney. - The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a contract, with a value up to $1 million, to design an engine for the Transformer (TX), a vertical take-off and landing, road-worthy concept study vehicle. The engine design will use technology from the EnduroCORE™ engine developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company. “Since 2005, we have been talking to the Marines and DARPA about the propulsion needs for a Transformer Vehicle, and the EnduroCORE engine characteristics address those needs,” said Scott Claflin, director of Power Innovations, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The EnduroCORE engine is a durable, lightweight, high-performance diesel engine designed to support applications ranging from propulsion to power generation. It is mechanically simple for reliability, scalable to support a wide-range of critical missions, and has demonstrated quiet operation in testing. The EnduroCORE engine is also a full-compression, full-expansion, diesel-cycle engine, which makes its fuel consumption comparable to diesel piston engines. High rotating speeds enable a high power-to-weight ratio comparable to gas turbines. The TX vehicle, still in its conceptual phase, will be designed to carry up to four people. It will be capable of vertical takeoff and landing and traveling up to 250 nautical miles without having to refuel. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will work with the two DARPA prime contractors to develop a conceptual design of an engine for TX vehicles that could be developed and available by 2015. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines.
In April 2009, Flight Global published: A Wankel engine prototype should be under test by June for a Pratt & Whitney effort to deliver high specific power unmanned air vehicle engines. Work is now under way on building the prototype. The goal is to achieve a specific power of 3.28kW/kg (2hp/lb), with a successful test in this quarter expected to lead to the development and fabrication of a flight weight version of the air-cooled engine, which is called Enduro-core and will use diesel. The P&W Wankel is combining the small and large stator rotors on to a single shaft to help improve efficiency. With an undisclosed UAV provider for a customer, the engine is being aimed at a class of unmanned vehicles similar to the AAI Shadow. "A lot of engines don't have a long life. We are aiming for better lifecycle," says Pratt & Whitney Alabama operations' general manager, Rick Bachtel, who also oversees future programmes. He says another market for the engine is compact power for the military. The work is also involving power management technology from P&W's United Technologies' sister companies. Bachtel's team originally looked at small high-speed turbines because of Rocketdyne's experience with turbopumps, but he says "it didn't work out". The prototype is being built by Andrews Space. The company has rapid prototype capability and P&W wants to learn from Andrews techniques of incorporating the small company entrepreneurial culture in its large organisation.
Comments: Indeed one can design a Wankel aero diesel of light weight related to power, if the rpm is high. But 2HP per Lb doesn’t sound exactly lighter than a turbine. That would anyway be quite a breakthrough, but theoretically possible if the TBO is sacrificed. This is conceivable on a military application. The problem is the spotty history of aero Wankel engines: It has been tried many times (by Curtiss-Wright in the seventies which almost killed the venerable firm) and failed on lubrication issues notably. Will it work now? It is interesting anyway that P&W explores this innovative avenue rather than developing a turboprop engine. (Picture here shows a generic Wankel design.)
posted at 8:40 AM
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Every month: news, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engines aircrafts between 130 and 400 HP: Retrofitting a diesel engine to run on Jetfuel or Kerosene, reduce Gallons/Hour by some 30%, eliminate ignition systems (magnetos, spark plugs) and their problems, eliminate mixture control, increase TBO to 2,400-3,000 hours, increase performance between 6,000 and 12,500 ft., and drastically reduce Operating Costs.
The letter is intended for piston engines aircraft owners, manufacturers, fleet operators and FBOs, re-manufacturers of engines for these aircrafts, manufacturers of engine components and ancillaries, and all professionals acting in decisions of engine exchange or refitting at TBO, in North and South America, Pacific Rim, African continent, and all parts of the world were Avgas, Mogas, Kerosene and Jetfuel are available.
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