Raytheon & Cyclone Team Up on All-Fuel Engine
As companies race for the latest and greatest alternative fuel to compete with oil, a number of options have arisen. Ethanol, biodiesel, even the lesser known isobutanol all hold promise, but one major problem is in the engines these fuels are supposed to run. Costly modifications are needed in many cases to operate on alternative fuels, and even then you are limited to one fuel or another. Why not just create an engine that can run on virtually any kind of fuel? That’s the approach being taken by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in a deal signed with Cyclone Power Technologies.
The all-fuel Mark V “clean-tech” engine, a Rankine Cycle heat-regenerative external combustion engine, can run on virtually any fuel. Ranging from biodiesel to waste oil, whichever fuel is used, the engine even emits fewer emissions than modern gasoline engines.
The Mark V engine works by heating and cooling water in a closed-loop piston-based system.
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Cyclone Power Technologies’ founder, Harry Schoell, was named Popular Science’s “Inventor of the Year” in 2008 for the invention of the company’s “Cyclone Engine,” the predecessor to the Mark V.
"After months of rigorous engine testing, we're pleased to say that Cyclone and Raytheon are now entering the next phase of our working relationship. We are designing and building engines such as the MantaRay (a modified version of the Mark V) for Raytheon and their customers, and starting to generate revenue from these operations. We're very pleased to be working alongside such a well established and respected company and look forward to building our relations going forward," says Schoell.
Considering that national development efforts in various countries are moving toward multi-fuel infrastructure, this engine—if applied to personal transportation—may offer a unique option to consumers. Can’t find a gas station? No problem, just fill up with used cooking oil. Want to support locally produced ethanol? That works too! As fuel options become more and more prevalent, those with multi-fuel engines running their vehicle will have the benefit of choosing from the most economical option, or even the most convenient depending on location. However, let’s not be too hasty in our excitement. After all, it is Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems division that is funding the project, so likely the technology will become a cog in the war machine before it’s put to any kind of practical day-to-day use.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly