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Thread: Diesel engines

  1. #1
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Diesel engines

    So I have been looking around at ways of reducing the cost (both initial and operating) and weight of my design. I'm trying to stay away from AvGas powered engines for a couple of reasons (predominately pending demise of 100LL) and have had a hell of a time finding an option other than a turboprop, a diesel or one of those odd modifications of a car engine (which I am staying away from because I don't see unleaded gasoline as a viable option either). The maintenance costs on turboprops are too high to make that an ideal choice which leaves me largely with diesels as a possible option.

    However, I am not having much luck finding one that is over 200-300 hp. Deltahawk isn't offering anything, it appears Lycoming has given up on their development of a diesel powerplant and I'm not finding much else that seems useful. Anyone else aware of anything else out there (or in the very final stages of development) that might be an option?

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    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    The problem with a diesel for aircraft use is aluminum doesn't hold up real well under the combustion pressures involved. I was involved with the testing of a GM/Isuzu engine back in the late 90s & they had no end of problems due to the thinner parts of the aluminum head casting flexing under pressure.

    Ford has a 4.4 liter turbo diesel that was supposed to go in the F150, 320HP & 520ftlb torque, right now it is only available in a Land Rover in Europe, with the Federal mandate for low sulfur diesel adding at least $1/gal to the price of diesel fuel the market for that engine in the F150 in the US disappeared. I was told it was supposed to weigh about the same as a small block ford but I haven't been able to find an actual weight on it. You might also look into the 3.6 liter engine that is used in a lot of British built Fords.

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    Thomas Stute's Avatar
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    There are a few diesel aviation engine developments here in Europe, mainly based on automotive engines. There are the Thielert engines (Germany) which are build in series. They have an engine of about 170 HP which is flying in the Diamond DA 40 and DA 42 and is also aiming at the retrofit market for C-172, Pa28, Robin DR400 etc. Something similar was developed in Austria by Diamond for use in Diamond aircraft. In France there are the SMA engines (4-flat) originaly developed by Renault which are rated at about 230 HP. Mistral engines of Switzerland have a very interesting diesel rotary engine under development.
    All these engines were on display at the AERO in April. You will find more info about these engines on the net.

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    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Yeah, the truck engine options aren't what I'm looking for due to a couple of consideration (weight:horsepower being the biggest one). The aviation models are all too low powered. I may just have to accept the associated maintenance expense of a turboprop and work with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Stute View Post
    There are a few diesel aviation engine developments here in Europe, mainly based on automotive engines. There are the Thielert engines (Germany) which are build in series. They have an engine of about 170 HP which is flying in the Diamond DA 40 and DA 42 and is also aiming at the retrofit market for C-172, Pa28, Robin DR400 etc. Something similar was developed in Austria by Diamond for use in Diamond aircraft. In France there are the SMA engines (4-flat) originaly developed by Renault which are rated at about 230 HP. Mistral engines of Switzerland have a very interesting diesel rotary engine under development.
    All these engines were on display at the AERO in April. You will find more info about these engines on the net.
    I believe Thielert is no more. I'm pretty sure Austro makes the diesel engines for Diamond now.
    Jesse Schoolcraft

  6. #6
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Thielert is no more. They have been rebranded as Centurion engines but their engines are very low powered (135 and 155 hp). They had been developing a 350 hp model (still low powered but better than most others on the market) but that has been put on hold indefinitely.

  7. #7
    Thomas Stute's Avatar
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    There was another aviation diesel development in Germany, the Zoche aero Diesel radials, ranging from 70HP to 300 HP. You can find more about them under www.zoche.de (in English). I'm not sure about the status of this development but contact them and you find out.
    Information about the Swiss mistral aero-engines is under www.mistral-engines.com Currently this seems to be the most promising development.

  8. #8
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Stute View Post
    There was another aviation diesel development in Germany, the Zoche aero Diesel radials, ranging from 70HP to 300 HP. You can find more about them under www.zoche.de (in English). I'm not sure about the status of this development but contact them and you find out.
    Information about the Swiss mistral aero-engines is under www.mistral-engines.com Currently this seems to be the most promising development.
    It appears that the Mistrals are designed to run on 100LL or regular gasoline both of which I am trying to stay away from. I have sent an e-mail to Zoche, but have yet to hear anything back from them.

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    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinindy View Post
    I have sent an e-mail to Zoche, but have yet to hear anything back from them.
    From what I understand, you probably won't. I don't think their web site has changed in over 10 years, & I haven't heard of them attending any aviation trade shows anywhere in quite a while.

    It did look like a promising design.

  10. #10
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Lovely. Guess I'll go back to planning on a turboprop. I can't find a reciprocating engine with enough power to work and there are no other good options. Thanks for all of your input.

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