Exceptional improvements have been made to automotive expertise since Karl Benz launched the world to the “Motorwagen” in 1866 and Henry Ford gave rise to the American auto trade with the Mannequin T in 1908. But regardless of the development from hand-crank starters and smoke-belching straight pipes to push-button digital ignition and smog-friendly hybrids and EVs, the inner combustion engine has remained considerably unchanged in its elementary design, with a construction incorporating a single piston per cylinder and a valve practice housed inside a cylinder head.
A sea change is on the horizon, nonetheless, as a revolutionary opposed-piston diesel engine designed by physicist Dr. James Lemke, and constructed by his firm, Achates Energy, has entered fleet service with the Wal-Mart company underneath the hood of a Peterbilt mannequin 579 tractor.
Lemke was removed from the primary particular person to suggest or construct an opposed-piston motor. The Fairbanks-Morse mannequin 38 8 1/8 diesel engine has powered submarines and floor ships because the Nineteen Thirties, and each Gobron–Brillie and Arrol–Johnston put gas-powered opposed piston engines in race automobiles earlier within the century.
Whereas a typical four-stroke engine depends on combustion from a spark plug to use downward strain on a piston and synced valve timing to permit for air and gasoline to be introduced into the engine cylinder and exhaust gases to be expelled, an opposed-piston engine actually turns this idea on its aspect.
the opposed-piston design saves gasoline and is inherently emissions-friendly
In an opposed-piston engine, two pistons are positioned at reverse ends of the cylinder, and the gasoline is combusted within the house between them. The design requires no cylinder head or valve system, lowering extra warmth and transferring components relative to a standard four-stroke engine. Achates touts its 10.6-liter engine as being compliant with 2027 California Air Assets Board (CARB) requirements, which require a 90% discount in NOx emissions in comparison with present requirements. Based on the producer, Achates’ opposed-piston engine additionally places out about 10% much less carbon dioxide emissions than a standard four-stroke engine. These good points are achieved largely by way of enhancements in effectivity that end result from the engine’s easy design, which may also make the Achates motor cheaper to service and keep over its lifespan. Lemke, who holds 114 patents and refers to himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” developed the Achates engine as an enchancment on the Junkers Jumo plane engine that debuted in 1890. “It had an effectivity that exceeded any engine that had ever been made earlier than,” Lemke mentioned in a promotional interview.
James Lemke by no means bought to see his engine put to make use of in fleet autos
The Junkers Jumo engines had been made out of date by the appearance of jet engine expertise, however Lemke mentioned he grew to become intrigued whereas studying a e book in regards to the Junkers engines throughout a visit to Mexico in 2001. Lemke mentioned he instantly noticed the potential the opposed-piston design held for contemporary autos and identified how the streamlined opposed-piston format led to a cleaner-burning motor. “Many engines have a candy spot the place they get most effectivity,” Lemke defined. “When you’re off that, effectivity falls off very quickly. Ours is a really flat plot that’s about the identical effectivity in every single place. Any utility of diesel these days will profit from this configuration by higher effectivity and cleaner efficiency. Ours is the cleanest engine, about 20 to 30 p.c extra environment friendly than any diesel ever made.”
Dr. Lemke died in 2019 on the age of 89, so sadly he by no means bought to see the Achates-powered Peterbilt tractors hit the street, however his legacy may hopefully reside on within the type of a cleaner-burning, extra fuel-efficient engine which may sometime be christened the Lemke in his honor.