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LiquidPiston: High Efficiency in a Small Package



LiquidPiston started in 2004, with a dream to design ultra-efficient, compact, low vibration, powerful internal combustion engines. In the spirit of Edison, LiquidPiston strove to improve their concept before moving to manufacturing, acquiring knowledge along the way. In June of 2007 it was time to traverse from theory to prototype so Dr. Nikolay Shkolnik, Founder and CTO at LiquidPiston, purchased SolidWorks. The ability to create both virtual and physical prototypes opened doors for LiquidPiston.

X Model

X Model

Dr. Shkolnik’s learning curve was short, aided by support sessions that began in 2007 at home on his kitchen table. I met with Dr. Shkolnik to discuss his success story in their 6000 sqft office that contains laboratory facilities where all developing and testing of engines takes place. During this meeting Dr. Shkolnik told me that LiquidPiston “wouldn’t be here today without SolidWorks.” He described SolidWorks as being “powerful, easy to learn, and affordable. All great qualities for a small business.” It is no wonder that basic knowledge of SolidWorks is a prerequisite at LiquidPiston.

Before the company began, the founders, Dr. Shkolnik and his son Dr. Alexander Shkolnik, invented the High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC) thermodynamic cycle. Using SolidWorks technology LiquidPiston has created the “model x”, an engine that uses the HEHC thermodynamic cycle. LiquidPiston is now revitalizing the “model x” working on a smaller, powerful, low vibration version called the XMV3, or X mini version 3. What started as a dream has become a reality as the HEHC thermodynamic cycle has been successfully implemented, and is now being improved with a newer series engine. Technology similar to that being used to downsize the “model x” to the XMV3 has recently put LiquidPiston in the spotlight for their ability to create compact combustion engines.


XMV3 SolidWorks Drawing

Early in 2015 LiquidPiston signed a $1.0M contract with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop engines for the United States Military. LiquidPiston is creating downsized combustion engines to be used in a variety of military scenarios. LiquidPiston has been successful in downsizing both gasoline and diesel engines. The gasoline engines are 2-3 times smaller than conventional gasoline engines ones and the diesel engines are 3-10 times smaller than conventional diesel engines. In the cases of both gasoline and diesel engines, they are 25% – 75% lighter. With much determination LiquidPiston has designed engines that are 20% more fuel efficient than similar engines on the market. LiquidPiston does not intend to stop here, aiming for their next achievement to be an engine that is 50% more fuel efficient. The smaller engines will create the same amount of power as engines currently being used by the military. This technology will be tested in scenarios where it would be replacing full size combustion engines.

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