Astron Aerospace’s Omega 1 Engine


While much of the world hears the death knell for internal combustion engines, one company thinks it has a solution that will keep the sucking, squishing, banging, blasting going, at least a little longer. While major automakers like Audi, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz have announced that they have ceased research and development of internal combustion engines, Astron Aerospace is creating an all-new engine architecture that is unlike anything else on the market. With the usual dramatic claims of greatly improved power-to-weight ratio, efficiency and low emissions, will this be the next big thing, or will vaporware never see the light of day?

Omega 1 engine. Credit: Astron

Although Astron has not signaled any intention to develop an engine for motorcycles, the claimed compact size and weight would apparently be suitable for a two-wheeled application, especially given the weight and bulk of the current crop of batteries for electric motorcycles are one. factors that prevent the segment from reaching mainstream audiences. Thousands of pounds of batteries are acceptable in a Tesla when the power output is so prodigious and the total weight of the vehicle is already several thousand pounds, but when the typical motorcycle weighs 500 pounds or less, adding everything Significant weight with batteries kills performance and range very quickly. Astron considers its engine suitable for everything from aerospace, generators, military applications and as a range extender for electric vehicles.

Exploded view of the Omega 1 engine. Credit: Astron

Exploded view of the Omega 1 engine. Credit: Astron

The Astron Omega 1 is truly a unique design that, if it works, looks like a possible contender for the saving grace of IC motors. What Astron has done is split the four strokes of a four-stroke engine into two separate chambers with a pre-chamber in between. The layout consists of two main shafts stacked vertically and connected to timing gears so that they spin at the same rpm in opposite directions. Four rotors spin on the two shafts in two pairs, one stacked pair at the front handling the intake and compression strokes, the other pair at the rear handling the combustion and exhaust strokes. Between the two sets of rotors is a rotating disc valve and an antechamber.

The two lower rotors both have a vane running in their own chamber, and the two upper rotors are solid except for a notch that meshes with the vanes of the lower rotors. Air is introduced into the front end chamber in front of the vane, and as it rotates, the vane compresses air as it collides with the top solid rotor. When the upper rotor notch is exposed, a port in the side of the chamber opens, allowing compressed air to flow into the pre-chamber. The pallet meshes in the notch, then the cycle begins again.

Meanwhile, in the pre-chamber, fuel is introduced through an injector. The mixture is then allowed into the rear chamber by the rotary valve, and a pair of glow plugs ignite the mixture. The resulting flame propels the vane over the rear lower rotor until the exhaust port is exposed and burnt gases are expelled from the rear chamber.

The result is an engine with no alternate parts, and Astron claims that with precise machining, no sealing issues like those found in a Wankel rotary engine. The detailed exploded view does not appear to have any seals except those for the four large bearings. Astron Aerospace claims the Omega 1 weighs 35 pounds. (15.9 kg), produces 160 horsepower, 170 lb-ft of torque, idles at 1,000 rpm and redlines at 25,000 rpm. They built a working prototype and claim the engine can run on a variety of fuels, with extremely low emissions (zero in some cases).

Auto and motorcycle manufacturers are currently scrambling to perfect the all-electric vehicle to meet low emissions and fossil fuel demands from governments around the world, but it seems some still champion the cause of internal combustion. If Astron Aerospace can pull off the Omega 1 (or 2 or 99), there may still be some life left in the fuel burners.



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