Engineers at Wichita, Kansas-based Astron Aerospace are hard at work developing a more powerful platform engine for aircraft, automobiles, boats and drones. Astron’s Omega 1 engines are designed to run more fuel efficiently and to generate cleaner emissions than engines currently in operation.
One key to the revolutionary Omega 1 engine is its extremely low power-to weight ratio. Astron Aerospace’s new engine is anticipated to generate over 800 HP at 30,000 rpm with an expected weight of 150 lbs. This implied power-to-weight ratio of 5.3 hp./lb. is much higher than popular turbine-powered aircraft engines whose power-to-weight ratios are no more than 2.57 hp./lb. Omega 1 is also more than five times as powerful per pound than the 1,300cc Wankel engine in the Mazda RX-8.
The Company’s Skip-Fire Technology enables the Omega 1 to use only the amount of fuel necessary to achieve the power required at any instant. For example, the engine can fire every rotation while a vehicle is accelerating, but only once every 50 rotations at cruising speed. Such efficiency results in less fuel consumed and far fewer emissions produced than other engine technologies.
Another key to Omega 1 is that, unlike with piston engines, it has no moving parts besides the rotational elements. (In fact, Omega 1 has about the same number of parts found in a typical lawnmower.) Thus, Omega 1 avoids the friction losses (and resulting energy required to circulate coolant) associated with all of the moving parts inherent in piston engines. Fewer moving parts and less friction reduce engine wear and tear: Omega 1 engines are expected to operate for at least 100,000 hours before requiring overhauls.
The Omega 1 engine is the first engine with an active linear power transfer. As the Omega 1 engine rotates, all the power is transferred through the single rotating power shaft. There are no offset crankshafts, no reciprocating pistons, and no eccentric shaft (as in a Wankel rotary engine).
Omega 1 offers built-in protection from any foreign-object damage to the engine core, unlike the air flow in a turbine engine which makes the turbine engine susceptible to bird strikes. Astron Aerospace has also protected its inventions with a robust patent portfolio.
According to our discussions with Astron Aerospace’s senior management, the prototype is expected to be complete by the end of the summer and its first manufactured product by year’s end. Executive Vice President Rob Whittle forecasts the initial application of the Omega 1 as a range extender for electric vehicles, helicopters and marine craft.
By David Liepman, June 2, 2020
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