American engine manufacturer LiquidPiston has been awarded a $1.7 million contract to continue developing its Hybrid Electric X-EngineTM (HEXE) propulsion system.
The HEXE propulsion system will reportedly help the US Army to achieve its Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System – Vertical Take-Off and Landing goals.
According to the company, the system will deliver fuel-efficient power and advanced take-off and inflight capabilities to the service’s drones.
The hybrid system also offers electric-assist sprint and climb modes and ensures a quiet, electric-only cruise.
“One of the Army’s major areas of focus for modernization is Future Vertical Lift (FVL),” US Army research official Zeke Topolosky said.
“Over the past few years, Army xTech judging panels have repeatedly recognized LiquidPiston’s technological developments in holding great promise for supporting critical Army requirements for FVL modernization.”
Reducing Operational Costs
LiquidPiston’s HEXE propulsion system can overcome range and payload concerns by offering “portability, low maintenance, and jet fuel compatibility.”
The engine can also recharge batteries in the air for improved VTOL and a longer, quiet electric cruise.
Company chief executive officer Alec Shkolnik said that having reliable and efficient power sources for drones, weapon systems, and other solutions is critical to enhancing warfighting capability and reducing operational costs.
He further explained that the domestic industry for efficient engine systems is struggling and that diesel engines have become too big and heavy for unmanned aerial systems.
“LiquidPiston is primed to address these challenges for the DoD [Department of Defense] and for broader mobility applications with greater power to weight requirements,” Shkolnik said.