28943 Research into alternative fuels for (ultra) light aircraft internal combustion engines
Begeleider(s): ir. Tom Robeyn

Richtingen: Master of Science in Electromechanical Engineering


ULPower is a Belgian company that designs, produces and sells aircraft engines for (ultra) light aircraft.

The engines are of the air-cooled boxer engine (petrol engine) type. The engine range consists of 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder engines ranging from 97 to 220 HP. However, the combustion of fossil fuels contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and its associated climate change. There is currently only limited demand or pressure from the market to reduce emissions or to produce carbon-neutral engines, given the small market share of (ultra) light aircraft. It is however necessary to start looking now for a sustainable alternative propulsion system for this type of aircraft. Various developments are already ongoing. (e.g. electric, hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen-fueled combustion engine technology) The use of a carbon neutral synthetic fuel is a possible route for the aviation sector. The question to switch to a different engine type or to keep the engine and use a sustainable fuel is an extremely important decision. The worldwide availability of the sustainable fuel, its cost price and the technical feasibility are important factors in the decision process.

In preparation for the realization of a working prototype alternative engine for (ultra) light aircraft with a climate neutral impact, it is necessary to map out all possible routes with their advantages and disadvantages.


A complete overview of:

-The availability on the market today or in the near future of sustainable fuels to determine the most eligible aviation specific fuel or energy carrier
- The production process of the energy carrier and its climate impact
- Economical achievability, affordability for the customer
- Political vision on sustainable fuels and internal combustion engines
- Availability of the sustainable fuel worldwide (at airports)
- Possibility for the fuel to be used with existing aircraft engines
- Safety aspects of the fuel
- Influence of the fuel and engine on flight range and weight/volume ratio of the fuel
- Evaluation of the adjustments that are necessary for the current (combustion engine) to work on this alternative fuel source.
- Demonstration of the technical feasibility
- Environmental impact of fuel in the event of unwanted fuel loss or an accident or crash.

To obtain a clear picture of the above subjects, an in-depth study is needed on what is already available today (worldwide), what is currently being developed, and what may become the dominant alternative in propulsion source for (ultra) light aviation.
This project wll be mainly consist of a literature study, where the obtained information will be processed with ULPower