Rotron Power Ltd, a leading manufacturer of advanced rotary-powered propulsion systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) applications, is offering its customers an opportunity to examine in-depth the development of its Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) technology. The exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, at its manufacturing facility in the UK, will allow Rotron to showcase its engine production capabilities and processes, while customers can observe a live demonstration of the HFE engine’s capability.
Since NATO’s announcement of the single fuel policy in 1997, the UAS market has failed to deliver a heavy fuel propulsion system for the Class II Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS market sector. This is largely due to the extreme power-to-weight ratios required in such propulsion systems; the size of the engine makes it difficult to propagate the flame and ignite heavy fuel.
Over the last 4 years, Rotron has developed unique patented technology, enabling heavy fuel propulsion coupled with engine longevity and reliability. The range of Rotron Heavy Fuel engines offer a compact, light-weight heavy fuel rotary engine utilising advanced fuel management techniques to achieve reliability in operation, high power to weight ratio, low fuel consumption and reliable starting under the most extreme of operating conditions. In the last 24 months, Rotron has seen multiple customers deploy its HFE system into operational service and is currently the only manufacturer in the world to produce a viable heavy fuel variant within the Class II classification.
In 2015, Rotron was awarded a prestigious grant from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) to further develop a high endurance heavy fuel rotary engine. Over the 18-month research and development project Rotron has undertaken quantitative fuel analysis and combustion tests to further understand the limitations and ignition characteristics of heavy fuel. The data has been used for the implementation of a remodelled pre-heat and multipoint injection system to achieve more effective and consistent engine starting. Further research into coke characterisation and morphology has provided new insights and approach to achieve more efficient combustion and particle burn. Analysis of materials and manufacturing processes provided strategies for the implementation of preventative actions for autoignition, surface ignition and coke deposit and build up. This innovation puts Rotron, and the UK, at the forefront of UAV propulsion in this fast growing sector.
Alongside its Heavy Fuel programme, Rotron continues to shape a new generation of its gasoline-fuelled Class II engine, setting industry leading standards in weight, power and size, as well as operating economics. Rotron’s RT600LCR-EXE rotary engine has achieved more than 500 hours of simulated flight time, marking the latest significant milestone in the company’s engine development programme.