We’ve had no shortage of opposed piston engines over the years, but this team is aiming for substantial efficiency gains, as much as 50%, over previous attempts with a design utilizing gasoline compression ignition. The Argonne National Laboratory is working with Achates Power, Inc., and Delphi Automotive on the project to create a “super engine.”
As the pistons reverse course and slide to opposite ends of the cylinder, ports machined into the cylinder allow exhaust gases to escape while fresh air is taken in, then the pistons move together again to compress and ignite in a two-stroke cycle. The design eliminates cylinder heads — which are a major cause of heat loss and inefficiency in conventional engines — and allows the engine to run with diesel-like efficiency and power, while maintaining gasoline’s emissions benefits.
An analysis by Achates Power indicates the new engine will yield fuel efficiency gains of more than 50 percent compared with a downsized, turbo-charged, direct-injection gasoline engine, while reducing the overall cost of the powertrain system.
I like the concept and it looks promising, but the proof is in the actual engine. After seeing so many positive reports on the EcoMotors OPOC engine, the Cleeves Cycle from Pinnacle Engines, the CoAxe Opposed Piston Diesel and many others, it’s hard to get too excited over one more, at this point a running engine demonstrating the performance and efficiency the researchers say they can achieve would be the game changer. I do hope one of these engines finally makes it, maybe this will be the one.