Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


DELILAH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 284848
Funded under: FP7-JTI

An eco-friendly helicopter engine

EU-funded scientists developed a novel diesel engine for light helicopters as an alternative to conventional turboshaft engines. The technology demonstrated substantial reductions in fuel consumption and emissions.
An eco-friendly helicopter engine

Helicopters conventionally employ a turboshaft engine that has a much better power-to-weight ratio compared to diesel engines. However, engine efficiency decreases dramatically with increasing altitude and it requires a large and heavy reduction gear to reduce main rotor speed to desired revolutions-per-minute. The EU-funded project 'Diesel engine matching the ideal light platform of the helicopter' (DELILAH) developed a lightweight, high-power diesel engine that can also operate on biofuel.

The team conducted a multi-criteria analysis to develop the desired clean-energy solutions. Scientists focused on optimising the design of a turbocharged diesel engine with self-ignition and an electronic control system. Their goal was to achieve substantial reductions in the emission of toxic substances, carbon dioxide (CO2) and noise.

To realise such an engine, the team employed extensive modelling to solve problems related to engine configuration design and integration with the rotorcraft. Scientists analysed the high-dimensional, dynamic, multi-body mechanical system and the adaptive control system to address issues related to vibration, noise, oscillations, engine control and response.

Comparison of flight scenarios demonstrated that the DELILAH optimal turbocharged diesel engine for light helicopters could potentially reduce fuel consumption by 50 %. As a result, CO2 emissions were halved with 20 times less carbon monoxide production and over 200 times less soot than conventional turboshaft engines. The results are fully in line with the environmental impact reductions laid out by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE) for the year 2020. The engine is compatible with the use of alternative fuels such as 100 % biofuel (B100), reducing dependence on fossil fuels and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

DELILAH technology promises to have significant impact on the environmental and operating costs associated with helicopter flight. Increasing the competitiveness of the helicopter industry while drastically reducing emissions will make the new diesel engine for light helicopters a marketing dream.

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