The History of The Achates Engine

Meet Dr. James Lemke – a serial entrepreneur with a passion for science, engineering and education and a track record of using scientific and engineering breakthroughs to create new products and companies.
Dr. Lemke founded Achates Power in 2004 with an idea that will revolutionize the automotive industry.  His stroke of genius was recognition that advances in computer aided engineering and engine component technology enable the revitalization of the efficient opposed-piston engine.

Lemke realized that more efficient transportation solutions are required if we are to maximize the utility of the world’s finite petroleum supply, particularly in light of carbon dioxide and climate change concerns. Dr. Lemke started Achates Power with a group of engineers and scientists, and a focus on scientific and engineering fundamentals. As each technical challenge was overcome, skeptics turned into advocates.  Current measurements show a 30% fuel efficiency improvement compared to the industry’s best diesel engines and nearly double the fuel efficiency of a standard gasoline engine with everything else (power, torque, emissions, noise, cost…) held the same.


Here is the story of how “light reading” on a Mexican vacation turned into the concept and development of one of the most revolutionary engines of today – The Achates Power Engine.

Defining Success

Recently, Green Car Reports ran an article, Fortune Puts Volt in ‘Dustbin of History’ Despite New Model Coming, which discusses the “success” (or lack thereof) of two different plug-in electric vehicles – the Chevy Volt and the Tesla Model S.  Strangely, it doesn’t even count the Nissan Leaf or the Prius plug-in models.  But I digress.

Maybe from a consumer or environmental standpoint, the most common measure of success is the number of units sold.  But from a business perspective (and I’ll argue that is the key perspective – especially with respect to the environment), the only measure of success is profitability Continue reading

Achates Power Opens New Office in the Metro Detroit Area

Achates Power is pleased to announce our latest expansion into the Detroit metro region. While San Diego will still be headquarters for us, rapid growth and new customers have led to our expansion into the Detroit area.

Leading the expansion is our newly appointed mid-west regional manager, John S. Major Jr. John, who has been with us since March 2015, brings a mix of small company leadership and big company engineering and program experience to our leadership team. John will be responsible for initiating, building and growing our customer application engineering capability in southeast Michigan. Continue reading

AUSA 2015

Heading into the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Global Force Symposium and Exposition last week in Huntsville, Alabama, I had no idea what to really expect from the event this year. This was my seventh AUSA, spread amongst three different locales, and I still have several stacks of business cards in my office from these events from years past, and the days of MRAP.

While normally at conferences such as this, I am prepared to offer published data to answer questions regarding Achates Power technology, but this time we were able to offer additional validation – the announcement of our $14 million dollar military engine project. Continue reading

Achates Power Wins $14 Million Military Engine Project

Achates Power is pleased to announce today that we have been awarded a $14 million project by the National Advanced Mobility Consortium to support research and development work of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The project, the Single Cylinder Advanced Combat Engine Technology Demonstrator, is part of the Army’s 30 year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles. This new project builds upon the technological advancements and proven results we delivered during our previous TARDEC project in 2012 for the design and construction of the Next-Generation Combat Engine.

We are also excited to announce that we have partnered with Cummins Inc. for this new chapter of modernizing the Army’s combat vehicles. The end goal is to deliver a product that improves the mobility and performance of combat vehicles. Continue reading

The Problem With Batteries

Our recent blog post compared the environment, economic, and convenience benefits of a very clean, very efficient internal combustion engine with an electric vehicle.  This post dives into more detail about the problems of using battery to store energy, particularly for transportation.

In short, batteries are very big, heavy, and expensive compared to gasoline (or diesel, or methanol or biodiesel, or ethanol or other liquid hydrocarbons ) stored in a typical automotive fuel tank.

The article, Has the Battery Bubble Burst, by Fred Schlachter of the American Physical Society sums up the problem: Continue reading

2015: A Look Ahead

2014 was a phenomenal year for Achates Power.  To support the increased market demand for our technology, as evidenced by a 300% increase in revenue and customer base that grew by 3x, we hired more great new team members and added office space.  Within last year we accumulated more than 1,000 dyno hours of testing, now surpassing 6,000 hours total, and presented our test  results at 11 industry-specific conferences around the globe, including SAE World Congress, SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress and the International Engine Congress.  We also secured six new U.S. patents and 13 new foreign patents, bringing our patent portfolio to over 1,800 unique innovations, 71 global patents and an additional 103 pending applications.
But we’re not stopping, nor slowing down.  We’re accelerating.  We remain steadfast in our goal of bringing to market the world’s most efficient engines, engines  that enable a cost-effective and sustainable future.  As we jump into 2015 we are already continuing to build on our strong growth results from 2014. Just twenty days into the new year and we’ve expanded our customer base by another step and our revenues continue to increase. Continue reading

Are Electric Vehicles the next bubble?

The 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay, describes a variety manias and bubbles throughout history and is still considered by many to be important in the study of social psychology and psychopathology.  Will a future edition include a chapter on electric cars? Will Telsa’s peak market capitalization of over $37 billion (as of 9/12/2014) be compared to the peak of the Dutch tulip mania, where a single tulip bulb sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled carpenter

“We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.” – Charles Mackay


In a recent speech at the North American International Auto Show, Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended electric cars, saying, “electric motors were ‘fundamentally’ better than gasoline engines in terms of efficiency.” I am not sure what Mr. Musk meant, but let’s look at some figures. Continue reading

The Achates Power Engine: A Game Changer for the Truck Industry?

As Americans are finding out that modern diesel engines are among the cleanest and most sustainable propulsion systems available in the market today, diesel engines are gaining momentum in the US.  In Europe more than 50% of passenger cars and almost 100% of light commercial vehicles are powered by state-of-the-art clean, diesel engines.  As the US press and customers start to understand the diesel engine’s advantage of delivering a great driving experience combined with outstanding fuel economy, automakers are expecting a significant rise in sales for diesel powered vehicles. Continue reading

What Makes A “Best Competitor” in the Green Car Space?

Yesterday, The Green Car Reports, published an article called “Plug-In Hybrids Are The Best Competitors To Fuel-Cell Vehicles: Here’s Why.” This immediately grabbed my attention and the article made some interesting points, but also got me thinking. What is the true definition of  “Best Competitors” in this space?

The Green Car Reports article seems to focus on vehicles that are easier to use (long driving range between refueling stops and short refueling stops at refueling stations that are already available), so it takes a functional view of the products on offer or that will be offered, but it doesn’t take into account cost, price or any other financial/economic measure.  That’s missing the mark (at least in the real world). Continue reading