Are two-stroke engines lighter

Car engine: Into the future in two-stroke

A small startup company from the US state of Michigan is declaring war on the major automakers: their new engine is more economical, lighter, smaller and cheaper, claims the company Ecomotors. With that she was able to convince the second richest man in the world, Bill Gates. The fact that Ecomotors is promoting a two-stroke engine as "revolutionary" sounds like a pipe dream. It should go into series production next year.

The idea of ​​a future-proof two-stroke engine for the automobile sounds strange, as such engines are more familiar in this country from lawnmowers and mopeds. In recent years, however, startups have repeatedly experimented with this type of engine. One advantage is the low manufacturing cost. This is also how the Opoc motor developed by Ecomotors - the four letters stand for opposed piston, opposed cylinder, i.e. opposing pistons and cylinders - 20 to 30 percent cheaper to manufacture.

The Ecomotors engine is based on the concept of the so-called opposed piston engine. Here, two pistons sit in a cylinder, with the combustion chamber between them. During combustion, the pistons move away from each other, then toward each other again. In the Opoc model, there are two opposed piston engines, so to speak, and between them lies the crankshaft that drives them.

First manufacturing facility in China

The comparatively simple construction without cylinder heads or valve control only needs half the parts of a conventional engine and is accordingly inexpensive to produce. In addition, the unit is smaller and lighter. The two-stroke engine should also consume 20 to 50 percent less fuel.

Ecomotors claims to have got the poor emission values ​​that two-stroke engines had so far due to their design under control, among other things through improved exhaust gas aftertreatment. If the engine were to become a reality, designers would be able to think about completely new car shapes, the company advertises.

Initially, 2.5-liter diesel engines are planned, which could be used in off-road vehicles, for example; further variants are planned. The Chinese auto supplier Zhongding Power is building a production facility for more than 200 million dollars in which the first engines will roll off the assembly line in 2014. The factory will then have a production capacity of 150,000 units. Zhongding Power primarily wants to supply manufacturers of off-road vehicles and commercial vehicles with the Opoc engines.

But you also work with other customers, says Ecomotors. The fact that the small company has attracted millions in support from people like Bill Gates could also be due to the protagonists behind Ecomotors. The Austrian Peter Hofbauer, who was Diesel Development Manager at Volkswagen for many years, has been driving the development of the Opoc engine for years. With General Motors' ex-chief engineer Donald Runkle, another expert sits on the board.