Reinventing the Engine

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Company Information



Automobile Manufacturing


Bloomfield, CT

LiquidPiston has reimagined the engine.

More specifically, it’s developed a line of advanced internal combustion engines. These are used to power cars, aircraft, boats, and other vehicles.

To create these engines, LiquidPiston uses a patented thermodynamic cycle and a novel rotary engine architecture. This cycle, named the High-Efficiency Hybrid Cycle, has been implemented into a compact, lightweight engine that is 30% more efficient than gasoline- and diesel-powered competitors.

These engines are quiet, efficient, and can provide up to 1,000 horsepower.

LiquidPiston is targeting the $400 billion internal combustion engine market.

This company already has an established presence in the military sector, with more than $10 million in Department of Defense and Aerospace contracts.

It’s been awarded a total of 64 patents (some pending), and has raised more than $3 million through three previous equity crowdfunding campaigns.

Since its last raise in 2018, LiquidPiston has demonstrated its initial engine – the “X-engine” — by powering an unmanned aerial vehicle. It’s also received notice from the U.S. Army on its selection for two upcoming contracts, and completed four feasibility study contracts with industrial partners.

LiquidPiston first set out to solve a glaring problem: engines today still rely on old technology that’s inefficient and costly.

Gasoline engines are inefficient, diesel engines are big and heavy, and electric power/batteries weigh too much compared to what they produce. For instance, just six gallons of fuel can displace a 1,000-pound battery.

These engines limit the range, payload, and efficiency that the vehicles can achieve. They also increase operating costs.

As mentioned, LiquidPiston is initially focusing on the military and aerospace markets, whose propulsion and power generation segments represent significant opportunities for the startup.

Perhaps surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Defense is the largest consumer of fuel on the planet. A single armored division, for example, uses 600,000 gallons of fuel every day.

According to the DoD, fuel makes up roughly 70% of the tonnage required to get troops into battle. Moving a single 175-pound soldier and his 100 pounds of gear from point A to point B requires 32 gallons of gasoline weighing 193 pounds. And once that soldier is actually on the battlefield, he needs fuel to power his tank, his jeep, and his generator.

LiquidPiston’s engines cut back on fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, and the costs of running a traditional engine.

In addition to its thermodynamic cycle, the key to the company’s engines is a simple, effective design. Each engine has only two primarily moving parts: a rotor and eccentric shaft.

Along with its X-engine, LiquidPiston has three engines under development. These include the “X-mini,” the “X-4,” and “Skunkworks.”

The company has several different revenue streams. These include:

• A design-as-a-service model. This enables the company to custom-design and develop engines, generators, and hybrid-power systems.

• Licenses to Original Equipment Manufacturers to build engines based on its design. This results in a combination of upfront licensing fees and recurring royalty revenue.

• And producing and selling its core engines for manufacturers to integrate.

In 2019, LiquidPiston completed four industrial partner pilot studies. This resulted in $1.1 million in commercial revenue. It also completed several phases of development with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create a 30kw Compression Ignition engine. This could potentially be used in unmanned aerial vehicles, generators, and other applications.

Notably, the company also developed a Compact Artillery Power System generator set for the U.S. Army. This burns diesel and jet fuel and weighs approximately 30% less than the generators currently deployed by the military branch.

Most recently, LiquidPiston has been named a finalist in current Department of Defense competitions. These include the U.S. Army xTechSearch 3.0, the U.S. Army and Innovation Combine, and the AFWERX Base of the Future Challenge.

Following success in the military and aerospace markets, LiquidPiston aims to enter industrial and commercial markets. It plans to integrate its engines into handheld power tools, lawn and garden equipment, mopeds, drones, and hybrid vehicles.

Team Background

Alec Shkolnik - Co-Founder & CEO

Alec started LiquidPiston alongside his father, Nikolay.

Alec earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from Emory University. He then earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT. While there, he studied robotics, systems modeling, and neuroscience.

He began his career as a research assistant at Georgia Tech, then spent six years obtaining his Ph.D. at MIT. He spent a year as a postdoctoral associate at the university before starting LiquidPiston in 2011.

Nikolay Shkolnik - Co-Founder & CTO

Nikolay is an ex-Soviet scientist. He graduated from Kiev Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine and relocated to the U.S. in 1975 to complete his Ph.D.

He began his business career as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies. In 1986, he branched out and founded Quest Systems. It was here that he developed a device called a Hexapod Walking Robotic Vehicle. This was a ground-based combat drone used in the military. As a result of his work, he received a Motorola award for creativity and was awarded 14 patents.

Prior to starting LiquidPiston with his son, Alec, Nikolay spent five years as a program manager with Gen3 Partners, a consulting business.

Per Suneby - VP of Corporate Development

Per has a history of leadership roles with startups and Fortune 500 companies.

He began as a specialist manager with GE, an energy company. From there, he began a 12-year career with Motorola, a telecommunications company.

He gained financial experience as a partner with Flagship Ventures, a venture capital firm. He then became President and CEO of Converged Access, a developer of web traffic management solutions.

More recently, he was President and CEO of BioConversion Solutions, a developer of systems used to convert biomass into energy. After that, he was Chairman of the Board at Bytelight, a company developing location-based services using LED communications and digital mapping.

In addition to his role with LiquidPiston, Per has spent the last five years as a co-founder of Sternhill Associates, a company providing private investment capital and consulting services.

He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from The University of British Columbia and an MBA from Harvard.

Jake Zheul - Technical Specialist

Jake is an award-winning engineer. Throughout his career, he’s worked on 16 different types of engines.

Most recently, he was a staff engineer with Briggs & Stratton, a manufacturer of gasoline engines. Before that, he was a senior research engineer with Southwest Research Institute, a non-profit specializing in engineering field research.

Earlier in his career, he was a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin’s Engine Research Center. And prior to that, he was an engineering intern with STS Turbo, an engine manufacturing company.

Jake earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from BYU and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.


Adams Capital Management

A VC firm investing in early-stage technology companies.

Northwater Capital

A Canadian firm investing in early-stage companies.