Startup company receives proof-of-concept funding from the U. of Colo to develop more efficient aircraft engine
BOULDER, Colo. – September 14, 2010 – The University of Colorado recently completed an option agreement with Tigon EnerTec Inc. for CU technology enabling efficient management of hybrid engines in aircraft.
Conventional airplanes employ an internal combustion engine that is sized for the high power requirements of takeoff and climbing. However, most of a typical flight is conducted at lower-power cruising speeds, during which time the larger engine is burning fuel inefficiently. Electric motors, on the other hand, are able to operate at high levels of efficiency over a broader range of power output, but energy storage problems preclude the use of all-electric power systems in airplanes.
A team of led by Dr. Jean Koster in the Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have developed a method for switching between an internal combustion engine (powered by conventional fuel or biofuels) and an electric motor (powered by batteries, photovoltaic cells, fuel cells or other alternative power sources). The ability to transition seamlessly between these two motors maximizes overall efficiency and minimizes fuel consumption, while still meeting the high power needs of takeoff and climbing. The research group has also made a number of adjustments to the system, nicknamed HELIOS, to reduce the weight, complexity and cost of their hybrid engine.
“Being able to selective choose from torque sources, or combine them for maximum power, without the use of a clutch, opens up a range of propulsion options that can be optimized around whatever the mission need might be,” says Tigon CEO Les Makepeace. Tigon is currently working with aerospace and defense customers to investigate unmanned air vehicle applications; the company is also investigating general aviation, marine, and ground transportation applications. “This is an exciting time for the company,” adds Makepeace.
The HELIOS project is a recent graduate of the CU-Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) Market Assessment Program. “Tigon represents CU and RASEI’s strong focus on developing market relevant technologies that have immediate and broad real world applications,” says Trent Yang, Director of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at RASEI. “Our incubation program identified the original market opportunity and we look forward to working with and supporting Tigon as it successfully transitions our lab technology into the real world.” RASEI recently funded a $40,250 proof-of-concept investment which will allow Tigon to further develop the technology.
About Tigon EnerTec
Tigon EnerTec is a propulsion system(s) integrator that designs modular, energy efficient, and eco-friendly propulsion systems to increase safety, performance, and reliability of operation. Tigon has focused on the product's "variable optimization", or the ability of the platform to adapt to a variety of applications of Concepts of Operations. Tigon has designed and developed a proprietary gearing system for a hybrid propulsion system, where input may come from a combination of select combustion and/or electric motors, with the mechanical output to a single shaft. To learn more, visit tigonenertec.com.