Jet engines without moving parts. Seems unlikely, but North American Wave Engine Corporation (NAWEC) CEO Daanish Maqbool has developed just that. And he did it right here in Maryland.
The idea of an engine without moving parts dates back to WWII, but problems with fuel efficiency and vibration prevented practical use at the time. NAWEC addressed the inadequacies of the WWII era engine by using pulse combustion technology developed at the University of Maryland, College Park.
NAWEC’s technology uses pressure waves to move air through the engine, the way machinery moves air through traditional engines. These pressure waves can be thought of as really powerful sound waves, Maqbool said. The new engine provides an alternative to the jet (turbine) engine. Turbine engines can come with over 10,000 moving parts, making them very expensive and impractical for private use. NAWEC’s engines provide a more affordable, simpler engine without sacrificing performance. In addition to manned aircraft, the technology will also be used in unmanned aerial vehicles.
“We have an engine that will cost a fraction of traditional jet engines, with a much lower operating cost,” said Maqbool. “NAWEC will have a large impact on the market for private aircraft, UAVs, and beyond.”
Bootstrapped by an SBIR grant, NAWEC started ground-testing its first series of prototype engines for the general aviation and UAV markets last year, and will soon be flight-testing at UMD’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site in Southern Maryland.
Local investors have been paying attention to the company’s innovation. The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) offered the company $150,000 through the Maryland Innovation Initiative. NAWEC also received a $1.45 million investment in a funding round with with the University System of Maryland’s Momentum Fund, Abell Foundation, and Gula Tech Adventures contributing. Public and private resources have been invaluable to NAWEC as the product is developed and tested, Maqbool said.
“As someone who has been through the system, I can say that the state has put a lot of effort into creating an ecosystem and is doing a good job of supporting companies,” Maqbool said.
Backed by a portfolio of investors and sound research, there’s a promising future ahead for NAWEC, which has already caught the eye of the Department of Defense.