The U.S. Navy has awarded a contract for development of a 0.5-hp all-ceramic engine to Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR), Tuscon, AZ, and Regi U.S., Columbus, IN.

The small engine, for use in an unmanned aerial vehicle, will employ Regi's Rand Cam rotary vane engine system and will have an external combustion chamber. The engine will operate without a cooling system on either diesel or JP5 (jet engine) fuel.

The rotary vane system of the Rand Cam engine permits compressed air from the compression cycle to be routed to an external continuous combustion chamber then back into the engine's expansion cycle. Ceramic construction is expected to permit high-temperature, high fuel-efficiency operation and will be invisible to radar — essential for the aircraft's mission for aerial surveillance and perhaps other uses.

The application is referred to as the “U.S. Navy's Smart War-Fighter Array of Re-configurable Modules (SWARM) low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle.”

ACR already has made a $3 million investment in new state-of-the-art production facility for composite products.

Regi also has developed hydrogen-separator technology, for which patents have been applied.