MoD awards contract for advanced marine engine concept
28 January 2013
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ordered the next prototype stage of development of a high performance, lightweight diesel engine for marine outboard applications.
The Cox Powertrain engine concept – with many patents pending – is based on a supercharged, two-stroke diesel opposed piston architecture with Scotch Yoke crankshaft and a central injector position. This engine topology promises a power to weight ratio comparable with high performance gasoline engines, whilst delivering diesel fuel consumption and a package volume around half that of a state-of-the-art diesel engine.
The engine is being developed towards the demanding operating conditions of a military application in which extreme diesel performance, light weight and small package size are critical to mission performance, and must be delivered alongside robustness and high reliability of operation.
Cox Powertrain approached Ricardo at an early stage to provide assistance both in developing the Cox engine concept and in supporting the growth and development of the Cox Powertrain business from a small start-up operation to one capable of taking the fully developed product to market.
Cox Powertrain re-located to secure premises at the Ricardo Shoreham Technical Centre site in 2011 and with Ricardo support, has now successfully completed the detailed design phase. This has included an intensive computer aided engineering (CAE) programme using both commercial and proprietary Ricardo software tools, in order to optimise and validate the design to an extremely high level prior to prototype manufacture.
Having concluded the design phase the new MoD contract announced on January 28 will support Cox Powertrain and Ricardo as they pursue preparation and further development of the engine in prototype form. It is anticipated that the first fire of the engine will be carried out at Ricardo's facility next month, marking the start of the prototype development phase.
The Cox opposed piston engine concept – the original invention of the company’s founder, former F1 designer David Cox – has been the subject of fully subscribed private investment rounds raising development capital of £6.7m, and has already attracted previous external funding from the MoD to support the accelerated development of its detailed design
The Cox engine concept is specifically designed for its intended purpose as an outboard power unit, but further variants are already under consideration for military inboard power, civilian marine applications and UAVs.