Cubewano perfects heavy fuel engine
British engine maker Cubewano has created the world's lightest and most powerful engine to run on heavy fuel, providing over one horsepower per pound, as part of an aerospace project to modernise the US military.
Cubewano has spent the last two years producing an engine for the US Army's second increment of Class 1, a programme to develop the next generation of unmanned air vehicles (UAV) for the US armed forces. The engine completed a successful first test flight recently in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Craig Fletcher, founder and CEO of Cubewano, said: "Another supplier was originally building the engine for the Class 1 increment 2 project, but the turbine suffered catastrophic failure so we were brought in design, test and deliver a brand new engine with very aggressive weight targets - all in less than two years.
"Our brief was to develop an engine with a core weight of less than 1lb per horsepower, which was previously thought impossible. Through extreme optimisation of components and carefully selecting the latest high tech materials, we were able to achieve this ambitious goal."
The engine was manufactured at Cubewano's base in Birmingham, United Kingdom, from ultra-lightweight materials such as ceramics, titanium and carbon fibre as well as specialist experimental steels from Germany.
Earlier this month, Cubewano sent a team of six to the test facility in Albuquerque to oversee the installation of the finished engine into the vehicle by prime contractor Honeywell, in readiness for the test flight. On April 1st 2011 the engine was tested in the vehicle for the first time, flying flawlessly for eight minutes.
Fletcher continued: "The UAV market is predicted to grow to be worth nearly $8bn by 2020 based on worldwide military sales alone, so it is a lucrative market for us to be in and we're already pursuing new defence contracts based on the success of this test project.
"But being so small and powerful, the engine also has many non-military applications as well. We're currently modifying it for use as a range extender in electric vehicles and developing a prototype of an ultra-lightweight portable generator that can be carried by just one person."
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