LaunchPoint Technologies will be attending AIAA Aviation Forum 2017. Please visit our demo booth outside the Transformational Electric Flight Expo.
LaunchPoint Technologies is proud to announce another successful test flight of our 1.5 kW Hybrid Electric UAV Gen Set. This time, the flight was captured on video by LaunchPoint's Mike Ricci.
The 1.5 kW system was installed on a DJI S1000 sircraft piloted by Michael Green of LaunchPoint's partner company, Empirical Systems Aerospace.
Link to the Video:
LaunchPoint Technologies is proud to announce selection for the following Phase I SBIR programs:
NASA A1.03 Low Emissions Propulsion Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion
Selected Proposal: Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Based Solid State Smart Circuit Protection
NASA A1.06 Vertical Lift Technology
Selected Proposal: Lightweight, Non-Contact Magnetic Transmission for UAV and Rotorcraft Applications
Army A171-002 Advanced Electric Motor Technology for Hybrid Electric Architectures
Slected Proposal: Advanced Electric Motor Technology
Navy 171-028 Lightweight Self-Start System for T56 Engine Driven Aircraft
Selected Proposal: Advanced Lightweight Starter Technology
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. recently completed a NASA Phase I SBIR* to investigate the design of a “Hybrid Electric Propulsion System for a 4-Passenger VTOL Aircraft”. The advancement of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for rotorcrafts enables vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles to take advantage of aerodynamic efficiencies that can reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to conventional rotorcraft vehicles.
Unlike conventional internal combustion engines, or high-speed turbine engines, the high power-to-weight ratio and energy efficiency of electric motors is conserved when the motor is scaled to a smaller size. A distributed electric propulsion system for a VTOL aircraft can exploit aerodynamic benefits that increase the lift to drag ratio by 4- to 5-times that of conventional helicopters (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20140001088). This yields a fourfold increase in range while maintaining the VTOL and hover capabilities of a conventional helicopter.
Furthermore, the proposed hybrid electric propulsion system will increase the safety and reliability of the system, while reducing the operating costs compared to a conventional VTOL rotorcraft of a similar payload. LaunchPoint surveyed concept aircraft designs like the tilt wing vehicle concept images below, and designed the hybrid propulsion system for these types of vehicles, along with all of the hybrid propulsion components, like motors, controllers, battery packs, and generators for the vehicle. LaunchPoint Technologies applied redundancy management and fault isolation techniques originally developed for “Fly-By-Wire” systems to the design of the hybrid-electric propulsion system. The result is a propulsion system that can be safer and more reliable than a conventional piston engine propulsion system.
LaunchPoint Technologies is seeking development partners who wish to license the architecture and technology; or who wish to fund the development of custom turn-key hybrid propulsion systems for aircraft.
*NASA Phase I SBIR: NNX14CC48P titled “Hybrid Electric Propulsion System for a 4-Passenger VTOL Aircraft”
Lightweight generators for airborne applications have received a lot of attention lately as the only feasible way to extend the range/duration of electrically-propelled air vehicles. By integrating the LaunchPoint Dual Halbach Array technology into a small reciprocating engine, LaunchPoint Technologies has developed a high specific power range-extender genset for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.*
The genset weighs approximately 6kg and produces 6kW. It can be gasoline-fueled or converted to heavy fuel by Greg Stevens Engineering (GSE), a collaborating company. The alternator and electronics have a chain efficiency of greater than 93% at operating conditions, and the integrated alternator can act as a starter motor for the engine as well. The system is still undergoing testing, but will be available for purchase soon.
*The genset was developed by LaunchPoint engineers under subcontract T13-6200-LAU from the National Institute of Aerospace as part NASA Prime contract NNL08AA00B.
Brad Paden, PhD, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board for LaunchPoint Technologies Inc., has been elected as a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Dr. Paden is recognized for his theoretical contributions in control including nonsmooth stability theory, inversion of nonlinear systems, and control of robot manipulators. He has also led major design projects including the mechatronic design of left-ventricular assist devices (a form of artificial heart). He has over 120 technical publications and 17 patents. Dr. Paden has been awarded the ASME DSCD Kalman Best Paper Award, the ASME DSCD Draper Innovative Practice Award and the IEEE Control Systems Society Technology Award. He is also an IEEE Fellow and AIMBE Fellow. Dr. Paden is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. (LaunchPoint) has recently completed testing a new version of its variable valve timing (VVT) electromechanical valve actuator (EVA) for internal combustion engines. The new design reduces power consumption by more than 50% compared to the previous design and thus far has exceeded 1 million cycles of endurance testing. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of a recently completed SBIR Phase II grant. Additional funding was provided by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) as part of an SBIR Phase I grant.
VVT EVA systems can provide improvements in engine fuel-efficiency, torque, and emissions, but are not widely used because until now the technology has been too expensive and has not met automaker’s performance targets. LaunchPoint’s electromechanical VVT system incorporates a novel energy storage mechanism that enables a reliable high performance and cost-effective actuator. With the use of a microcontroller, the system is able to continuously and independently vary the valve duration and phase based on any operating conditions available to the controller such as engine speed and load.
Electromechanical Valve Actuator Prototype Fabricated for the Project
Two prototype actuators were designed and built for the NSF Phase II grant. The actuators were tested on a lab bench and on a Rotax 500cc one-cylinder engine with a modified head. Videos of valve implementation in lab bench and test-engine experiments were recorded to demonstrate operation. In order to properly characterize the valve transitions, more than 500 datasets were recorded and processed to determine the switch times, landing velocities, and energy consumption (the switch time is defined using a standard industry definition of 0.7 mm – 0.7 mm; the time it takes to switch from within 0.7 mm of the open and closed positions). By developing an online adaptive control strategy we were able to maintain repeatable and reliable system performance with the following specifications: 1.63 - 3.82 ms switch times with 0.01 - 0.07 m/s landing velocity and 1.33 – 3.15 J energy consumption per switch. The precise system performance is dependent on the actuator configuration and how the control system is set up and tuned. At 5000 RPM this corresponds to an average power consumption of 116 W when the system is tuned for minimum power. Further improvements in performance to decrease the switch time, landing velocity, and switch energy will be realized with more controller development.
After the system performance was characterized, an endurance test was performed to evaluate the durability of the system. After 1 million cycles – corresponding to 2 million engine revolutions – the system was still functioning well and had minimal signs of wear. The durability target is to reach the equivalent of 500 to 600 million engine revolutions (250 to 300 million cycles) required for an automotive application.
Overall we achieved all of the proposed objectives and exceeded the performance goals of the Phase II grant. Further testing is required to determine the variation in the system performance over the life of the mechanism, and the overall durability and fatigue life of the mechanical components. LaunchPoint is currently seeking strategic partners and investors to bring this technology to market.
About LaunchPoint Technologies:
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. is an engineering services and design firm that specializes in technology and product development. We have extensive experience in motor/generator design and development, medical device design and development, and maglev technologies. Our staff includes product and system designers, physicists, and engineers from a wide array of disciplines. As 'Venture Engineers' we invest our engineering expertise in proof-of-concept modeling and prototype design, secure IP, and assist with grant-writing and/or venture capital solicitation. For more information, please visit our website at launchpnt.com, or call 805-683-9659805-683-9659, ext. 207.
*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant IIP-1058556 and the United States Marine Corps under Grant M67854-14C-6525. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the United States Marine Corps.