Bill Gates invests in OPOC engine
July 13, 2010 § 3 Comments
EcoMotors International of Troy, Michigan has secured $23.5million in investment from Microsoft’s Bill Gates and from Californian venture-capital firm Khosla Ventures. EcoMotors is developing an engine it calls OPOC – opposed piston, opposed cylinder – and which it claims is 50% more efficient than a comparable traditional piston engine, as well as half the weight and size. With fewer than half as many moving components as well, it will also be cheap and easy to manufacture.
OPOC is the creation of Peter Hofbauer, formerly the head of powertrain development at the Volkswagen Group and now chief technical officer and chairman of EcoMotors. Hofbauer is working with the former vice president for North American engineering at GM, Don Runkle, now the CEO of EcoMotors.
The two-stroke engine’s trick is to give a power stroke in each cylinder for every revolution of the crankshaft, rather than every other revolution. Horizontally-opposed (‘boxer’-style) cylinders keep it compact and well-balanced, and power density could ultimately be four-fold compared to a conventional unit, claims the company. This allows for downsizing of the engine itself, and for fewer cylinders; it does not have separate cylinder heads, cams or valvetrains, and transmits power via electronic clutches. And it’ll run on almost anything – gasoline, petrol, diesel or ethanol.
It’s a highly-scalable concept, too, which can be used for anything from 15bhp engines for ride-on lawnmowers to 600bhp units for heavy machinery, and crucially, it can be built on existing powertrain production lines with little changes to the infrastructure (a key problem for other revolutionary concepts such as the Scuderi split-cycle engine). More details, including video of Peter Hofbauer explaining the engine, at the Ecomotors website.