opoc Engine Explained

Last week, news of Microsoft founder Bill Gates investing in a start-up company called EcoMotors surfaced. The reason which prompted one of the wealthiest people on the planet into providing funding for the company is the so called opoc engine or opposed piston-opposed cylinder engine. Compared to traditional engines of similar output, opoc and EcoMotors promise to provide 50 percent greater fuel efficiency and proportionally less harmful emissions. In a world where everybody claims they can achieve similar or even better results, we thought of giving the technology dubbed by its developers “game-changing” a closer look . EcoMotors
Established in 2008, EcoMotors set out to develop high-efficiency engines which can be used in all embodiments of a vehicle (cars, light trucks) and other man-made machines (marine applications, stationary generators). The company aims to do so without giving up the internal combustion engine which has driven the world forward this past century or so.


The idea behind EcoMotors' engine is not at all that new. The first application of such a configuration came to life in the early days of the automobile. In 1907, Raymond Koreyvo developed an opposed-piston two-stroke diesel engine with two crankshafts which, despite receiving a patent, did not enter mass production.

In time, several manufacturers chose to go the opposed-piston way (most of them outside the commercial automotive market), with the most notable engines being the Junkers Jumo 205 (aircraft), Commer TS3 (trucks) and Leyland L60 (tank).

Until now, several other engine manufacturers have been developing such engines, but none of them seem to have had neither the determination nor the financial backing of EcoMotors to make the unit appealing enough for mass-production carmakers.

EcoMotors' opoc

The opposed piston-opposed cylinder is a sort of engine which can run on several types of combustion fuels, including gasoline, diesel or ethanol. What sets it apart from the other engines is the fact that it comprises two opposing cylinders per module, separated by a crankshaft. Each cylinder comes packing two pistons, which move in opposite directions.

This construction allows the unit to function without cylinder-head and valve-train components, making it simpler and, of course, less expensive to build. The engine works in 2-cycles, generating one power stroke per crank revolution per cylinder.

The simple design of the engine makes it half the weight and half the size of conventional engines. This is the main reason why the unit is said to be one of the cheapest engine technologies to both manufacture and operate.

According to the initial results for the EM100 version of the engine, this opoc unit developed by EcoMotors outputs more than 1 hp per pound of engine weight. The engine has a dry weight of 296 lb. (134 kg) and develops a total of 325 horsepower at 3,500 rpm and 664 lb.-ft of torque at 2,100 rpm.

One of the main advantages of the unit is the fact that it can be configured to fit virtually every need thanks to the modular construction. Several modules can be linked together with the help of an electrically controlled clutch, resulting a unit with variable displacement.


What you must keep in mind after reading about EcoMotors' opposed piston-opposed cylinder engine is the fact that, as we already told you, the idea is not new, nor will it be a world first when it will eventually enter production. Yet, unlike other engine makers, past or present, EcoMotors is among the few, if not the only, who tries to develop such a unit for the commercial vehicle market.

Opoc is, if you like, another example of how hybrid vehicles can be rivaled by internal combustion cars. Although fuel consumption figures for the unit have not yet been established, they promise to be at least impressive. And this by only using simple laws of physics and not a single electric motor.

“The opoc engine can be an important step in providing affordable, low-emission transportation for the developing world,”
Bill Gates said when announcing he is investing in the company. “EcoMotors has developed a promising technology that could help reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions in a low-cost, globally relevant way.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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