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ORNL seeks to enhance tiny engine performance for military

 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineers are trying to improve efficiency and performance in tiny engines in remote-controlled airplanes that have applications for aerial military surveillance.Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineers are trying to improve efficiency and performance in tiny engines in remote-controlled airplanes that have applications for aerial military surveillance. (hi-res image)

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 18, 2013 -- Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineers are trying to improve efficiency and performance in tiny engines in remote-controlled airplanes that have applications for aerial military surveillance.

“Right now these engines are extremely inefficient,” said Mike Kass, senior engineer in ORNL’s Fuels, Emissions and Engines Group. “When you look at the energy density of a hydro-carbon fuel, it is quite high – roughly 45 times higher than the best lithium batteries. If you can improve the efficiency to as much as 10 percent, you’ve still doubled your fuel efficiency.”

One finding is that a titanium engine is more efficient than aluminum.

“The titanium head allows us to run under leaner conditions than can be achieved with the aluminum head because we’re getting a little more complete combustion,” Kass said. “The other thing that titanium allows us to do that we can’t with aluminum is that it is also a stronger higher temperature material, as well.”

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.


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