New lightweight LiquidPiston engine unveiled

Posted on 19 Jun 2016 by Michael Cruickshank

US-based startup LiquidPiston last week unveiled a new lightweight engine delivering significant advantages over traditional designs.

The new engine, called the X Mini is a new gasoline powered engine utilizing a unique new engine architecture.

Based off more than a decade of design work, the X Mini is a rotary engine that is completely pistonless.

As well, the triangular-shaped four-stroke motor only has 2 major moving parts.

While similar in concept to the well-known Wankel Engine, the X Mini’s creator and founder of LiquidPiston, Alec Shkolnik, is quick to point out that this is an entirely new design.

“It’s kind of a Wankel flipped inside out, a design that solves the old problems with sealing and fuel consumption,” he said according to reporting by IEEE.

A prototype X Mini has demonstrated 3.5 horsepower at 10,000 RPM and the ability to run steady state with air-cooling, according to information released by LiquidPiston.

Currently, the prototype engine is being tested in a go-cart, where its size and weight advantages are immediately apparent.

The final iteration of the X Mini is expected to weigh 3 pounds (1.36kg) and produce over 5 horsepower at up to 15,000 RPM. With these specs, it will be over 30 percent smaller and lighter than similar four-stroke piston engines.

Possible uses

While it is so-far only being tested in a go-cart, the X Mini engine has a large number of possible future uses.

The most promising of these is in drone aircraft, due both to the small size and light weight of the engine. As well, it can also run on Jet Propellant 8, used by the US military for its aircraft.

Perhaps recognising the potential of this engine, the US military’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) invested $1 million into the company last year.

Beyond drones, the X Mini engine could also be used in robots, as well we more mundane vehicles like mopeds and lawn mowers.

Nonetheless, the deployment of these engines could still be some years away, with LiquidPiston so far having not disclosed a date for the release of the mature version of their engine.