Connecticut-based startup LiquidPiston announced today that they have built a small, compact engine that is powerful enough to drive a go-kart. Their X-mini engine weighs just 4 pounds and has three moving parts, and yet can produce 3 horsepower, enough to replace the default 40-pound piston engine that normally powers the go-kart.

LiquidPiston says that their X-mini is still in a testing phase, and they hope to get the weight down to 3 pounds and the power up to 5 hp. (The 40-pound piston engine produces about 6.5 hp.) In the meantime, their little engine already packs a punch, as you can see in the video below.

LiquidPiston announced last year that they received a $1 million DARPA grant to develop their X-mini engine, and it appears that they've succeeded. The 4-pound, 3-hp engine is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet it can power everything from vehicles to generators to drones. The X-mini uses LiquidPiston's proprietary rotary engine design and thermodynamic cycle which offer vast improvements over both a traditional Wankel rotary engine and common piston engines.

LiquidPiston says the X-mini can run on Jet Propellant 8, the military's fuel of choice, making it an ideal candidate for all sorts of military applications. For instance, the X-mini is small and light enough to power a UAV, it can be part of a generator that can be carried in a backpack, or it can even be used to power military robotics. According to Alec Shkolnik, LiquidPiston's co-founder and president, "[DARPA] is kinda agnostic as to the actual application … they have so many different applications that need power."

Shkolnik said that the X-mini is still early in testing, and they have only just built their first working prototype, but he's hopeful that the engine could see a commercial release sometime in the next few years. When that happens, the X-mini could find its way into lawnmowers, emergency generators, and even small vehicles like mopeds. 



06/15/2016 11:05am

This Wankel engine patented in 1929. Nothing new.

06/29/2016 4:57pm

Novel idea. Will not be competitive at this point in time, It will compete in the class among-st other modified karts. ( IKF rules.) if you can solve the "O"ring problem that other Wankel engines have had you are on the right track. Keep it up and good luck with you endeavor.

07/04/2016 12:14am

The engine could be used for other useful purposes as well, thinking outside the box, the X-Mini can also be used in making tiny machines as big as toy cars run with the same power as a go-kart. With this idea, people can use tiny machines to go to places they can't go and make them run as long and fast as ordinary large vehicles. With how the market is right now regarding mini engines and such, the X-Mini can definitely make a boost right through the ranks of businesses involving go-karts and tiny machinery requiring a big horsepower. I would also suggest providing the details and changes they adjusted in the system to achieve the feat. All in all, I believe that they can empower a lot of competitors to further such discoveries, maybe try to make it adjustable in size but will also affect the power generated.

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