Diesel Engine Blog – Achates Power

Achates Power Under the Hood is designed for automotive enthusiasts interested in the development of a clean, fuel-efficient and low-cost engine. The blog provides commentary on the latest Achates Power clean diesel engine developments, along with our perspective on industry news and legislation impacting the global automotive industry. Contact us at 858.535.9920.

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

Roland Martin, Business Development Director, Achates Powerby Roland Martin
Business Development Director
Achates Power, Inc.

 

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.

 

Gasoline and diesel engines have undergone tremendous improvements during the past 20 years, but the potential to further improve the fuel efficiency of traditional 4-stroke engines is reaching the point of diminishing returns… even small improvements in efficiency come with a steep price tag.

 

Achates Power re-discovered the already record setting fuel efficiency of the opposed-piston engine. With its inherent thermodynamic advantages, and Achates Power’s proprietary state-of-the-art design and engineering, Achates Power has built and demonstrated clean, dramatically more efficient, and low cost engines that we need for decades to come.

 

The fuel economy comparison of pickup trucks under real-life driving conditions published by AUTOLINE DAILY in episode #1479 dated October 15th is impressive, and the growing diesel take rate for the RAM trucks is encouraging.  But compare this to the fuel economy of Achates Power’s opposed-piston engine in a full-size pick-up truck, and you are looking at the automotive and truck industry’s big game changer in the years to come.

 

For more information, please refer to the Achates Power website and our published Technical Papers, or in particular to Achates Power’s Light-duty Engine Technical Paper from the 2014 SAE World Congress.



 

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

David Johnson, President & CEO, Achates Power, Inc.by David Johnson
President & CEO
Achates Power, Inc.

 

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).

 

I think “Best Competitors” are those that best meet or exceed all the real world needs of all customers.  And we usually judge these in the marketplace by sales volume and profitability in the long run (anyone can boost sales volume for some period of time by giving away their product. IE: see price cuts on the Ford Focus EV of ~$10,000 since it was first launched and let’s see what it does to their sales volume in the coming months and years).

 

What are all the real world needs of customers?  Well that is indeed a trillion dollar question (about 80 million vehicles sold per year worldwide at let’s say about $15,000 per vehicle = $1.2 Trillion annually, if I’m keeping track of my zeros and commas successfully) that every vehicle manufacturer is striving to answer every day.  Well, I won’t be the one to make “the list” and declare that my list is “the correct and definitive list” but I will argue that if this list excludes the cost for the average consumer to purchase the vehicle, it is missing a HUGE part of the real world customer needs.

Most customers cannot afford EVs, PHEVs, Natural Gas vehicles nor FCEV’s- they just cost too much. Even with price cuts and government incentives, they are not an affordable option for the majority of consumers. Additionally, current prices are already too low for manufacturers to make money on these products, not making them a real viable option for manufactures. Therefore, none of these technologies are the “best competitors.” None of these sell in high volumes… none of these will sell in high volumes unless and/or until costs are reduced.

 

The world needs, we need, clean, efficient, durable, reliable, safe, fun-to-drive, good looking, highly useful vehicles that can be afforded by 80 million buyers around the world each and every year.  The product that fits this description relies on a clean and efficient internal combustion engine.  And I’d be pleased to suggest that the best IC engine for all future transportation needs is the Achates Power engine.

 

Diesel: The Alternative Fuel

Bryan Knight, Engine Development Engineerby: Bryan Knight
Engine Development Engineer
Achates Power, Inc.

 
In an age where the national news is dominated by reports on rising fuel costs and greenhouse gas regulations, consumers are aware of the different alternative fuels that promise to save money at the pump and reduce tailpipe emissions.  These fuels—such as natural gas, ethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen—are designed to decrease the carbon footprint of vehicles; market penetration, however, has been slower than expected. Ultimately, a significant reduction in fuel costs and carbon emissions will not be realized by a new fuel type alone, but rather by a better internal combustion engine that substantially increases the efficiency of our vehicles.
 
A study that addressed the question of why alternative fuels have showed slow adoption was completed at the Institute of Transportation Studies in 2007. It examined the adoption of natural gas vehicles in several countries, including the United States. For widespread acceptance of natural gas to take place, it is of paramount importance to implement a sufficient fueling infrastructure. As summarized in a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the lack of infrastructure for alternative fuels continues to pose the greatest barrier to widespread adoption in the U.S. Time has shown that alternatives without a dedicated infrastructure will fail to saturate the market. As such, we need to reevaluate fuels, such as diesel, which already have a mature infrastructure in place.
 
Earlier this year, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, a member of the board of management of Daimler Trucks and Buses, surprised listeners in a keynote address by saying “My alternative fuel is diesel,” and “I don’t see any replacement of diesel in the near future, not even in the long run.” Dr. Bernhard reminds us that diesel fuel has often been overlooked, and he is convinced that “a highly efficient diesel engine will be [the way] to reduce emissions.”
 
Only through a substantial increase in the efficiency of current engines can we decrease our dependence on petroleum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As summarized in a market report compiled by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2013 for the U.S. Department of Energy, the transportation sector accounted for 71% of total U.S. petroleum use—more petroleum than the U.S. produced annually. This cost the economy $500 billion in 2012 and accounted for 33% of total CO2 emissions nationwide. Stop for a second to think about the magnitude of these numbers. To lessen our dependence on oil and reduce emissions to the environment, it does not come as a surprise that the engines in our vehicles need to be much more efficient.
 
The vision at Achates Power—to design a better internal combustion engine that is both environmentally and economically sustainable—is perfectly aligned with these global challenges.  Our modernization of the opposed-piston architecture has allowed us to achieve increased engine efficiency that results in substantial reductions in CO2 emissions.  With the publication of our latest light-duty engine performance and emissions results, we have shown that our engine has the potential to meet stringent Tier 3/LEV III emissions and CAFE 2025 while delivering a 30% fuel economy improvement over modern diesel engines equipped with the most advanced technologies.  These benefits also apply to fuels other than diesel. In fact, we have already done extensive testing with natural gas and will continue to optimize our architecture so that it works with the best fuels available on the market. Using our technology, the world can decrease its petroleum dependence while, at the same time, reduce harmful pollutant emissions.
 
Dr. Bernhard’s hypothesis may be proved correct in time; diesel, with its significant infrastructure and high efficiency potential will not be replaced. However, in order to meet future efficiency and emissions targets around the globe, the internal combustion engine is due for some exciting changes, and we are passionate in our vision to get us there.

Advanced Combustion and the Achates Power Engine

Rishi Venugopal, Senior Staff Engineer, Achates Powerby Rishi Venugopal
Senior Staff Engineer
Achates Power, Inc.

 
Last month, I had the opportunity to organize and co-chair a technical session at SAE World Congress on efficiency and emissions in compression-ignition combustion. In my session as well as several others, there were a number of papers focused on advanced combustion concepts aimed at simultaneously controlling emissions and improving engine efficiency. This is not surprising as we head towards CAFE regulations for on-highway applications and, likewise, strict emissions standards for industrial power generation and marine applications. At this year’s World Congress as well as over the past few years, there has been a surge in the R&D activity of universities, research institutes and OEMs to accelerate the evaluation and development of advanced combustion regimes. Continue reading

Revolutionizing Vehicle Transportation

Fabien Redon, Vice President, Technology Development, Achates Powerby Fabien Redon
Vice President, Technology Development
Achates Power, Inc.

 
Last week, I had the privilege of presenting our light-duty diesel engine’s latest performance and emissions results at the SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium and SAE World Congress. It’s always an honor to share our work with automotive executives, analysts, academics and engineers. And, it’s even more meaningful when those same individuals realize the potential our engine has to revolutionize passenger and commercial vehicle transportation. Continue reading

How to Meet CAFE 2025 Standards

Roland Martin, Business Development Director, Achates Powerby Roland Martin
Business Development Director
Achates Power, Inc.

 
By 2025, passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the U.S. must meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fleet standards of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG). And, between 2017 and 2025, vehicle manufacturers are required to achieve annual efficiency gains of 5% and 3.5% respectively. While the goals are clear, the path to achieving them is not. So how will automotive manufacturers get there?
 
According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), technological innovation remains the primary driver behind vehicle improvements in C02, emissions and fuel economy. Continue reading

Diesel Is Now in the Driver’s Seat

David Johnson, President & CEO, Achates Power, Inc.by David Johnson
President & CEO
Achates Power, Inc.

 
It’s no surprise that diesel-powered vehicles are growing in popularity. After all, they’re far more efficient than gasoline engines and much more fun to drive. They’re also cleaner than their predecessors, thanks to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and new technologies that include particulate filters, SCR and common-rail fuel injection.
 
What may be surprising to some, however, is that diesels are becoming more popular than hybrids in the United States. Just ask Volkswagen. Continue reading

Are Diesels Cleaner than Gasoline Engines?

Roland Martin, Business Development Director, Achates Powerby Roland Martin
Business Development Director
Achates Power, Inc.

 
The conventional tradeoff between spark-ignited gasoline engines and compression-ignition diesel engines is that diesels are significantly more efficient—on the order of 30%. One reason for this is that diesel fuel is more energy dense (by volume). And more energy density translates into better fuel economy. Despite the added efficiency benefit, diesels are also more expensive due to: Continue reading

Reducing Our Oil Dependence

Larry Fromm, Vice President, Business and Strategy Development, Achates Powerby Larry Fromm
Vice President, Business and Strategy Development
Achates Power, Inc.

 
We were honored to make the final three in the inaugural Emerging Innovation Award from Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), and even more pleased to be named first runner up. SAFE’s sole mission is to improve America’s energy security by combating oil dependence. The Emerging Innovation Award was created to recognize and inspire the emerging innovations that have the most potential to help achieve that goal. Continue reading

The Emissions Dilemma

Larry Fromm, Vice President, Business and Strategy Development, Achates Powerby Larry Fromm
Vice President, Business and Strategy Development
Achates Power, Inc.

 
The dilemma for China, India and other densely populated, developing countries was starkly illustrated as my plane landed in Beijing on November 5. The smog outside was so thick that it looked like dusk when there were still hours of daylight left. The regulators in China and India know what is required to dramatically reduce vehicle emissions. In fact, China has embarked upon the most rapid decrease in tailpipe emissions that any major country has attempted. But, that poses a dilemma. Continue reading