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Poeton Nickel / Ceramic Coating Helps Protect the Engines that Power Unmanned Air Vehicles

/live/stories/UAV-1.jpgApticote Ceramic 2000, the Poeton coating developed for Formula One Racing and other motorsport engines, is also specified for the rotary engines in most of the world’s Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs).

The UK has a significant technology lead in this expanding market, which is estimated to be worth around £2 Billion a year, with an annual growth rate of 12.5%. The UAV’s obvious benefit includes no pilot, so no risk to human life. There are also no constraints on size or design, UAVs are lightweight, and can undertake continuous combat operations in some of the worlds harshest environments.

Besides their military applications, UAVs are also being used for civil projects such as agriculture, police surveillance, border control, and traffic and weather monitoring.

One of the world’s leading suppliers of power units for these craft is UAV Engines Limited (UEL), which manufactures a range of lightweight rotary engines covering 20 to 120 bhp (15 to 90 kW).

Due to the unique, patented air-cooled rotor design, rotary engines have an exceptionally high power-to-weight ratio, making them more compact, helping reduce mechanical friction and lowering fuel consumption.

Apticote Ceramic 2000 – a metal-matrix coating system specifically developed for high performance automotive engine applications – is used to add high wear resistance and low friction properties to the trochoidal bores of the rotary engine housings. A plasma sprayed coating of Apticote 800 is also applied to reduce wear in the engine seal tracks. Poeton is also undertaking research and development work on coatings for other engine components.

Commenting for UEL, a spokesman says they actively use Poeton coating expertise to improve engine operating characteristics under extreme climatic conditions, adding: “This work has successfully resulted in the introduction of a number of product enhancements, with additional improvements now nearing the end of their development phase.”

On the choice of coating, he says its engineers are convinced that Apticote Ceramic 2000 makes a significant contribution to the performance of the engines, which have successfully passed a 150-hour severe duty, FAR 33-type ground durability test, setting new standards for small ultra-lightweight unmanned aircraft engines.

Looking to the future, Poeton Sales Manager, Trevor Amos, says that, to keep pace with future development, UAV engines, guidance systems and other components will need a whole range of engineering coatings that can be applied to enhance the performance of lightweight alloys of aluminium, magnesium, carbon composites and titanium.

25 April 2010

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