Today’s internal combustion engines [ICE] are almost nothing like the engines found in cars of years gone by, with the exception of the basic mechanical aspects. Otherwise, a multitude of new technologies takes the place of mechanical controls and has increased the performance and efficiency of a modern I-4 ICE beyond the capabilities of older V-6 and even V-8 engines.
True, hybrid and electric vehicle technology seem poised on wiping out purely ICE-driven vehicles, but an engine developer in San Diego, CA is setting out to prove that the ICE still may have a place in future vehicle propulsion.
Achates Power, headed up by CEO Dave Johnson, claims that its opposed-piston two-stroke diesel engine can power a 40 mpg economy car while only consuming 60 mpg worth of fuel.
According to Johnson, the engine eliminates the valve train and cylinder head, reducing weight and the number of components, which would increase efficiency on the road. The new engine design still uses conventional manufacturing methods, which increases efficiency on the factory floor as well.
“I probably spent $50 million of GM’s money proving two-strokes don’t work in automobiles,” GM veteran Don Runkle told Popular Mechanics. But Runkle changed his mind, the magazine reported, when he encountered another opposed-piston design from EcoMotors, similar to the Achates design.
Achates has a number of PhD’d engineers and some big money backers, but still no automotive backers or even a prototype vehicle, so we might still have to wait to see if Johnson’s claims are true, or if the technology will remain a sideshow oddity.