West Midlands-based precision engineering firm, A&M EDM, has successfully commissioned its proprietary commercial unmanned aerial system (UAS) propulsion system by a non-European client.
The customer required a propulsion system with an integrated starter generator system able to perform on-board cold starts on heavy fuels down to -30⁰C.
To deliver this, A&M EDM embarked on a technical and business collaboration agreement with E-Propelled, a new addition to the UAV combustion engine starternator marketplace.
A&M management selected E-Propelled to offer technical support from their Cardiff base as they were in the same time zone, backed by an impressive design and development team at their US headquarters. The first prototype units were delivered by E-Propelled to A&M for testing in September 2020, with development continuing throughout the difficult conditions of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
This system is able to deliver up to 3kW of electrical power whilst also providing thrust via its low weight, low vibration and kerosene operation. The architecture provides a bridge between traditional UAS propulsion systems and recent aerospace developments in high electrification, such as vertical take-off and landing, hybridization or range extending systems.
A&M have longstanding experience manufacturing rotary engines for a range of customers including projects funded by the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation (NATEP) programme. In the past five years A&M undertook an R&D project to design, develop and manufacture a complete propulsion system with technical partner TechTeam Developments LLP. As part of the R&D, A&M invested in a bespoke, soundproof engine testing unit, complete with a £40,000 dynometer.
A&M’s system was developed from concept and prototype sales travelled thousands of miles in secure packaging to reach the commercial customer and successfully started first time. The system generates a total of 10kw has high power density, runs on heavy fuel and is capable of delivering 3kw of electrical power.
Mark Wingfield, managing director of A&M said: “We harnessed our engineering design and manufacturing capabilities to create a flexible propulsion system with unique functionality. It is robust, lightweight, compact, multi-fuel operational and dependable with almost turbine levels of vibration for a wide range of applications.”