ROCKLEDGE, FL – July 15, 2009 – Mainstream Engineering Corporation, a leading research and development company specializing in advanced thermal control and energy conversion, has been awarded a contract from DARPA to develop a linear free piston generator.
DARPA has the need to develop small (10 hp), modular engines with a very high power density (>1hp/lb), thermal efficiencies higher than 25%, quiet operation, and the ability to run on JP-8. Reciprocating engines and gas turbines are proven technologies; however, they have limitations that prevent them from reaching all of the performance targets. A linear free piston engine (LFPE) has the possibility to achieve all of the performance criteria. The LFPE has all of the benefits of a diesel engine while eliminating the rotating machinery and reducing the size of the “crankcase”. This simplification reduces the weight and therefore increases the power density. Mainstream will apply new features to increase and control the operating speed, which has been the largest technical challenge remaining for this type of engine. Mainstream is in an optimal position to develop the LFPE for this application as Mainstream has the necessary experience, facilities, and complementary programs to develop many of the necessary components.