The Story Is in the Data

Not many engine companies publish their technical results. We do, and I’ll tell you why.

Having worked at Ford, Case New Holland and FEV, I’ve evaluated many new engine concepts from multiple engine companies and inventors. Each of these concepts used different technologies and highlighted different benchmarks to validate success. The claims were all extraordinary and very few of these manufacturers ever discussed their technical results in any real detail.

At Achates Power, we’re driven by data—so when we make a claim, we can back up that claim with demonstrated results from more than 2,500 hours of dynamometer testing. We also use the most meaningful benchmark as a comparison. Sometimes this is with publicly available data…and sometimes it’s based on benchmarking studies that we can’t publicly cite.

Before we publish anything, however, we carefully review our engineering methods and scientific models to ensure that they’re sound. We also work with external consulting firms—some of the biggest—to double check our work and have been given a clean bill of health. And, when we’re finally ready to publish our results, we look for peer-reviewed journals known for their high standards and subject matter expertise.

So far, we’ve published our technical data in every quarter of 2011, starting in January with a keynote paper delivered to the Symposium on International Automotive Technology.  At that time, we demonstrated a drive-cycle average 13 percent fuel efficiency improvement over the benchmark. In June, we published a fuel efficiency improvement of 15.5 percent in a paper submitted to SAE. By September, in our presentation at SAE ComVEC and again at Der Arbeitzprozess des Verbrennungsmotors in Austria, that improvement increased to 19 percent. Just a few weeks ago, we announced a 20 percent fuel efficiency improvement (P.S.  It’s now 21 percent after some further hardware and calibration revisions).

Having spent nearly 40 years in the industry, I’ve witnessed a lot of novel engine concepts from start-up companies. But, in June, I moved from Detroit to San Diego to join Achates Power. Achates is the first company I’ve seen that has demonstrated significant thermodynamic engine efficiency advantages while not encountering any major roadblocks in its effort to create a robust, cost-effective and commercially viable solution to sustainable transportation. I am confident this engine will go into production.

So, the next time you hear an engine company make a claim of improved fuel efficiency, ask to see the data. We’ll gladly show you ours.

6 thoughts on “The Story Is in the Data

  1. It’s true we’ve seen differnt cycle types come and go. Now we’re in the 21stC. huge innovation/investment in alternative types of engines. Curious can this engine cycle be compatible with NH3??

    • In principle, our engine will run on any type of fuel compatible with internal combustion engines, and will show a similar range of fuel economy improvement based on the design’s inherent thermodynamic efficiency advantages. In practice, we’ve done all of our testing to date with diesel fuel.

  2. John, I am curious to hear the economic story behind the API 2-stroke diesel. Pursuing the commercial business gives technology a leg up in terms of being able to predict with some level of certainty the economic benefits (e.g. commercial vehicle daily drive cycles are more predictable). Are you focusing on the commercial space for early adoption or including consumer vehicles as well? I am sure that your data driven story will highlight the 20+% improvements demonstrated in your test results. Good luck!

    • Lyle:

      Thank you for the question. The main virtues of our opposed-piston engine are higher efficiency and lower cost—all while meeting the power, torque and emissions requirements of a given application. So any engine application that values efficiency and low cost will benefit from our engine, and that obviously includes commercial vehicles.


  3. John,

    I read the linked article (Der Arbeitzprozess des Verbrennungsmotors) with great interest. The process itself is amazing how you get the B50 BT efficiency with tiny numerous 0.1% steps to the current 49.5 %.

    One remark, on Figure 12, when the friction breakdown is detailed you claim a 4.6% geartrain loss. Presumably you have several configurations but if I only take the figure from Mr. Lemke’s/Mr. McHargue patent, where a 37 tooth external gear drives a 75 tooth external/75 tooth internal one driving a 37 tooth internal one (if I calculated correctly on US Patent 7784436B2, sheet 15) a simple model shows a potential with slip optimization as less than 2% loss as the number of teeth are high and one of the gears is internal.

    My question, in case I misunderstood something, do you publish details of that iteration of the gear train this data was gained from?



  4. Electric cars are still a few years away technology wise and will likley be expensive.Diesel cars get great fuel economy, but the same diesel they use in Europe cannot be used in the US because of emissions standards. In Europe they have different standards for gas and diesel fuel. In the US it’s the same for both. So that’s what keeps many diesel cars off our sure until low sulfur diesel gets more use in the US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.