New Heavy Fuel Developed for UAV Industry 

Together with the Cortex Hybrid engine solution, Currawong and VP Racing developed UMAN-VP4F heavy fuel based on Isopar but treated, tested and controlled to the same level as high-performance racing fuels By Caroline Rees / 17 May 2022
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Cortex Hybrid Engine

Currawong Engineering and VP Racing Fuels Inc. have combined their expertise in combustion engine production and Fuel Technology to provide a cutting-edge product specially developed for the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry. 

Together with the Cortex Hybrid Engine solution, Currawong and VP Racing were able to develop UMAN-VP4F heavy fuel based on Isopar but treated, tested and controlled to the same level as high-performance racing fuels. 

“I have been very impressed with how cleanly and smoothly our engines run with UMAN,” said Gavin Brett, CEO of Currawong Engineering. “It is fantastic to have this safe fuel available designed specifically to work with small spark ignited engines without all the compromises of JP5 and JP8. Our high-pressure fuel system is a perfect match.” 

“The UMAN fuel was developed to provide engine longevity combined with consistent predictable performance in the field,” said James Harlow, Director at VP Racing Fuels Inc. “In developing the UMAN-VP4F we had several challenges. The first challenge was keeping the flash above 60°C while maximizing the octane needed for the engines. Another challenge was finding a consistent feedstock that would maintain repeatable performance in the field. The final challenge was making sure the oil chosen lubricated the engine properly while not adding deposits in the combustion chambers or exhaust ports. We are very happy with the final product and look forward to continued efforts to improve the fuel with more updates from field operations.” 

Spark ignited heavy fuel engines for UAVs commonly operate on fuels such as JP-5 and JP-8. These kerosene-based fuels are excellent for gas-turbine engines which have no octane requirement but are not as ideal in piston engines where octane becomes important. Currawong has shown that UMAN- VP4F works well as a spark-ignited fuel in the Corvid-50 engine and burns with very clean combustion. Power output of the engine is comparable to that of petrol. 

“As a low volatility fuel, UMAN-VP4F provides increased safety to users, it also created difficulty with combustion. Currawong overcame this through the use of our high-pressure Triplex pump and specially-designed injection system,” said a Lead Engineer on Cortex Hybrid Engine product development. 

Currawong and VP Racing Inc. look forward to seeing further field tests of the innovative new fuel through the use of the Cortex Hybrid Engine in UAV applications. Currawong seeks to see the fuel utilized in naval applications, its low volatility making it a suitable heavy fuel to be stored on naval ships. 

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Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact