Issue: Jun 2010


by Bob Brooks

Two Chinese firms have committed $18 million to refinement for commercialization of a U.S. designed unique diesel engine in the 1 hp/lb range nearly 3 times lighter than comparable 4-cycle diesels. Fuel consumption, emissions and cost of the unique EcoMotors engine are also less and vibration is virtually eliminated. “50% better fuel economy compared with state-of-the-art conventional turbo-diesel engine” is claimed. Prototype engines have successfully passed 500 hour testing.

The EcoMotors engine, termed, OPOC (opposed piston, opposed cylinder) is shown in the accompanying illustration [animation can be seen at;]. An engine module consists of two opposed cylinders each with two pistons operating opposed to each other forming the combustion chamber. Since each piston’s stroke dimension is half normal engine stroke for the same displacement, OPOC engines can operate at twice normal RPM, hence, with very high power density yet exceptional smoothness. Cylinder head, all valve components and balance shafts of conventional 4-cycle engines are eliminated.

Induction air through cylinder wall ports at one end of the combustion chamber is provided by an electric assisted turbocharger driven by an electric motor for starting and at low power and by exhaust gas pressure as power increases. Exhaust is through cylinder wall ports at the other end; effectively, a uniflow design. Two engine modules, for instance, can be connected through a clutch system that permits one module to be completely shut down when less than half rated engine power is needed to enhance fuel saving; particularly in vehicle applications.

Don Runkle, CEO of EcoMotors, said scavenging air efficiency is over 90%. He also points out that the engine’s effective compression ratio can be altered by electronic controlled boost pressure at any speed/load condition. The engine is direct injected with oil consumption comparable to 4-cycle engines.

ZhongDing Holding (Group) which now markets diesel and gasoline engines for a wide variety of uses has teamed with the engineering consulting firm, Global Optima. Together the two firms are providing the reported $18 million for production engine design and development at EcoMotors. The planned initial diesel unit (termed EM100D) with 2 modules will be in the 200-300 HP range. .

The $18 million investment by the two firms also includes funding for EcoMotors development of a single module gasoline engine in the 75 HP range. Planned initial compression ratio will be 10:1 but Runkle points out again, that its effective compression ratio can be altered at will, while operating, by the electronically controlled dual powered boost air charger.

Runkle said the gasoline version, like the diesel, will initially be designed to use current normal fuels. Beyond this, however, the business situation and overall technology become very dynamic.

Don Runkle, now CEO of EcoMotors, Troy, MI, has recently been appointed a member of the board of Directors of Transonic Combustion, developer of a super critical fuel system for increased engine efficiency and multi fuel operation. The two firms have common financial support from Khosla Ventures, Menlo Park, California. Coincidental with this, Bob Lutz has become a Board member of Transonic. Both Runkle and Lutz are ex-General Motors executives not satisfied to retire but instead, working to advance game changing internal combustion engine technology.

Taken together, AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRIES observes that we may be witnesses to a unique teaming of fuel combustion and engine technologies that translate into the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. In this case the parts are potential engines for all manner of large and small volume applications that are half or less in size, weight and complexity, lower cost and able to use any one or mixtures of common petroleum and bio liquid fuels at drastically reduced consumption and emissions rates per unit of power.
Materials, energy and emissions conservation potential could be considerable and, indeed essential, considering World population and economic growth forecasts.

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