By Tawny Chandler

With all the noise about alternative energy technology, a Wisconsin company is going directly to the source of energy efficiency— the engine.

DeltaHawk Engines Inc., has developed a family of patented diesel engines with innovative technologies that could send the aviation industry to new heights. Today, light aircraft still fly engine technology from the 1950s, and DeltaHawk is taking steps to replace that with lightweight, compact and fuel-efficient engines.

“All over the world, over 33 aircraft models are being designed around our engine,” said Dennis Webb, president and CEO of DeltaHawk, headquartered in Racine, Wis. As a pilot himself since 1993, Webb has always been passionate about aviation.

“I was always fascinated with aviation,” said Webb, who joined the DeltaHawk team in 2005, “I wanted to fly since I was a kid.”

DeltaHawk started 16 years ago when Doug Doers, an engineer and aircraft builder, was encouraged by fellow co-founders Diane Doers and John (J.P.) Brooks to build a high-efficiency aircraft engine for a record-breaking, long-distance flight from Texas to Tokyo.

“Other models would not work because they were inefficient and required aviation gas,” said Webb, “a special fuel that is very expensive and only available in certain parts of the world.” Webb described that Brooks wanted an aircraft engine that would burn commercial jet engine fuel, was efficient and low-cost to operate.

“He built a novel engine that burns commercial jet engine fuel at 40 percent higher efficiency than gasoline burns,” Webb said. Not only is the engine efficient, it’s smaller and lighter than traditional engines.

“This allows us to put a sleeker and smaller nose on the aircraft, dramatically increasing aerodynamic efficiency,” Webb said.

The light aircraft engine market is estimated at $1.7 billion dollars or 23,500 engines annually. DeltaHawk has already passed major market entry hurdles and is in its final investment round to begin production.

The company is looking for $6 million in equity investment. “We are looking to cross the finish line,” said Webb, “It’s in sight.” DeltaHawk expects positive cash flow in 2013 and revenue growth of up to $289 million in five years. Although positioned to be number one in its target markets, DeltaHawk is not without competitors, three of which are located in Europe.

“Our competitors are already in production, but their engines are much larger and heavier than ours,” said Webb, “and our customer base tells us we’re doing it the right way.”

DeltaHawk engines are already in high demand. Orders have already been placed and cash deposits of up to $100,000 have been made. “Selling the engine is not the problem, it’s managing demand on the way up,” said Webb. But he has complete confidence in his team.

“Quality and liquidity can be a problem on the upside. But we have experienced professionals on the board to manage it,” said Webb of the challenge. Team DeltaHawk includes alumni from IBM, Case, Emerson Electric, Modine Manufacturing and Johnson Controls.

Vice President Stephen Smiley is one of them, and he is excited that DeltaHawk will be presenting at the 2012 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium Nov. 13 and 14. “We have a delightful story and we want to continue to tell it,” Smiley said.

The symposium helps early stage companies learn how to pursue private equity and prepare for regional and national venture conferences. To learn more, visit, email Webb at or call 262-634-9660.

“The best way is to come in and meet us,” said Smiley, “we love to bring people in to show off what we are doing. Added Webb: “We’re about ready to take off.”

Chandler is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.