US Air force has $2 million prize for engine that has turbine power to weight but piston fuel efficiency

The Air Force is energizing domestic research and development with a $2M prize for a light-weight, fuel-efficient, small turbine engine. This innovative acquisition approach will advance the technologies needed to support the world’s best Air Force.

The turbine engine must be in the 100 horsepower class, with a 2.0 brake-horsepower per pound (bhp/lb) or better power to weight ratio. It is also required to have a brake-horsepower specific fuel consumption of 0.55 pounds per brake-horsepower per hour (lb/bhp/hr) or less at maximum continuous power. Those standards would double the fuel efficiency of existing turbine engines of that class. The new engine would weigh a fraction of piston engines in the 100 horsepower class and have 10 times the life span, according to the Air Force.

“With this prize they’re trying to get inventors to develop a turbine engine that has the power density of a turbine and good power to weight [ratio] and … also has the specific fuel consumption of a piston engine. So in a sense they want a jet engine that gets better gas mileage,” said Mike Heil, president and CEO of the Ohio Aerospace Institute and former director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s propulsion directorate.

Advanced GE turbine

SOURCES – Youtube, Air Force Prize