Dr. James Lemke, Founder and Chief Scientist
Dr. James Lemke is a serial entrepreneur with a history of founding and leading companies to successful exits and a personal passion for science, engineering and education. He founded Achates Power in 2004 with an idea that would revolutionize the automotive industry by revitalizing the opposed-piston, two-stroke engine. As an influential physicist holding more than 100 patents, Lemke understood that the rapidly increasing shortage of fuel and greater need for emissions reduction meant the world needed a solution. That solution came in a 1930s-era engine architecture that demonstrated great potential, but momentum had dissipated when the tools of the time could not produce an efficient version. Lemke knew the tools and the talent were now available to answer the transportation crisis. He started Achates Power with a collection of the brightest engineers and scientists with the condition that ideas and discourse flow unabated and the expectation that each fulfill their utmost potential. While amassing top talent in the industry, Lemke’s vision began to manifest results. However, instead of an engine that only moderately answered the need for efficiency, the Achates Power engine realized a more than 30 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared to the industry’s best diesel engines and nearly double the fuel efficiency of a standard gasoline engine at lower emissions levels and at 10 percent lower cost. While Lemke always believed in the engine’s viability, now the results have shown the industry the potential economic savings of trillions of dollars per year on fuel and components, and billions of gallons of fuel saved per year.
Prior to starting Achates Power, Lemke was the CEO and founder of Spin Physics Inc., which developed and patented magnetic recording transducers that employ unique magnetic materials instrumental to broadcast TV recording. At one time, 50 percent of the broadcast hours on television worldwide were recorded on Spin Physics’ magnetic heads. Lemke sold the company to Eastman Kodak and became a fellow of the Kodak Research Labs. Earlier in his career, Lemke was the research director of Bell and Howell Research, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego. He holds more than 100 patents with the U.S. patent office. Lemke is a member of the National Academy of Engineering as well as a fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Lemke earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in physics from Northwestern University and a doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.