A new thrust in micro air vehicles

Known as “Microjet”, a 13mm long hydrogen peroxide fuelled engine looks set to enable the development of micro air vehicles for use in both military and civil surveillance operations.

DERA has successfully produced and demonstrated a tiny powerplant for micro air vehicles (MAVs). Known as “Microjet”, this 13mm long hydrogen peroxide fuelled engine looks set to enable the development of micro air vehicles for use in both military and civil surveillance operations.

The soldier of tomorrow may carry a number of these air vehicles as standard equipment for use in looking over hilly terrain or surveying enemy territory and jamming communications. In civil applications, inspection surveys of areas difficult to reach by other means will be possible.

Until now, no suitable form of propulsion system has been identified to power these tiny craft which have a wingspan of only 6 inches, claim DERA. Most attempted solutions have involved the use of either electrically driven propellers or model aircraft engines. These are either too bulky and heavy or do not provide sufficient flight duration.

By mixing the hydrogen peroxide with kerosene, or a similar fuel, DERA has currently achieved flight duration times of up to one hour. Starting and stopping the engine is very simple and is achieved by a simple on/off valve.

The engine may be used as a pure jet, or used in conjunction with a ducted fan to improve propulsive efficiency.

Microjet has been operated on a test stand to demonstrate the concept and DERA is now seeking suitable partners or companies willing to invest in its further development.

On the Web: www.dera.gov.uk