In a successful transfer of know-how from the U.S. Space Program to the private sector, Cyclone Power Technologies, Inc. will be able to improve the durability and performance of the company’s external combustion engine, thanks to the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) and United Space Alliance (USA).

SATOP provides free engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges through the expertise of the program’s Alliance Partners, which consist of more than 30 aerospace companies, universities and national laboratories involved in the U.S. Space Program. United Space Alliance is one of SATOP’s partners.

Cyclone Power Technologies of Pompano Beach, FL. is the developer of the award-winning Cyclone Engine, an eco-friendly external combustion engine with the power and versatility to run electric power generators to cars, truck and locomotives using almost any fuel, or combination of fuels. During testing, company engineers detected carbide precipitation, a type of deterioration in alloys of stainless steel that occurs at high temperatures, taking place in the engine’s heat exchanger coil. After hearing a presentation about SATOP by Ryan Greenough, SATOP Florida Director, Christopher Nelson, Cyclone’s President, decided to ask the program for assistance with the carbide precipitation issue.

Greenough matched the Cyclone Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) with Rachel Preston, a senior materials & process engineer on the Materials & Process Engineering Team in the Launch & Recovery Systems Engineering organization of USA.

“USA is very familiar with carbide precipitation because of their work on the shuttle program, so this RTA was a perfect fit for them,” Greenough explained.

Preston’s background in metallurgy metals processing allowed her to perform metallurgical research on the stainless steel in the heat exchanger to determine what effects the high heat and thermal cycling were having on the material. Metallography and elemental analysis confirmed the carbide precipitation and Preston recommended several different stainless steel alloys that would better suit the heat exchanger, and provided recommendations for improved surface finish.

“The types of analyses Rachel did using high power magnifiers were well beyond our in-house ability,” Nelson said. “She also was able to tap a database of different alloy stainless steels to recommend a material better suited to our purposes. We are in the process now of implementing those recommendations and believe they will provide a greatly improved, more durable heat exchanger, thereby improving the longevity of the engine.”

Nelson said of Cyclone’s experience with SATOP: “It was great – SATOP is an excellent program. Their assistance has saved us a great deal of time, resources and money. SATOP was able to match our specific technical challenge with some of the best minds in the industry in dealing with these issues. We couldn’t be happier with the results.” (www.cyclonepower.com)