Junkyard Wars Yield New Engine Technology
Give some bright kids a few bucks and a junkyard and what can they come up with? "You just wait," says Al Janiszewski, who, a few weeks ago, was Col. Al Janiszewski and watching in amazement as a collection of wet-behind-the-ears military researchers revolutionized aircraft propulsion, promising zero to Mach 4 on regular gas and with great fuel economy. Until six weeks ago, Janiszewski headed the propulsion directorate of the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. What brought him to Oshkosh is a collection of automotive engine parts, electronics, belts and pulleys forming a successful pulse jet. Janiszewski said the key to a pulse jet is getting the fuel to explode instead of burn, extracting up to four times the energy of a normal combustion engine. Somehow, using an old car engine block and head with a confusing array of whirling pulleys and belts, the young researchers managed to turn $5,000 in spare parts into a system that sends Mach 5 pressure waves through exhaust barrels at the rate of 80 per second. After all that, their first engine puts out 200 pounds of thrust. Janiszewski said refinements of the design will power aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles of the future. For now, it looks like farm equipment strapped to the belly of Long EZ, but Janiszewski said the Junkyard Wars version will be quickly refined once the major engine manufacturers realize the potential of the technology.