The quest to replace the internal combustion engine as the primary driver of road transportation has been making some serious headway since the turn of the century, driven by an industry wide push led by visionary automakers such as Tesla, and sustained efforts on the parts of governments and environmental activists to counter the deleterious effects of climate change on our planet.
Today, electric cars having largely made the crucial cultural transition from nerd oddity to mainstream acceptance, aided by the many inherent advantages of electric motors such as over 90% energy efficiency, and instantaneous torque delivery even at 0 RPM, and the cool factor that Tesla has brought into the mix. However, the limitations of portable energy storage technology has been holding it back from completely ridding the field of internal combustion engines.
To add to what might prove to be a complete resurgence of fossil-fuel based transportation technology, an Israeli start-up firm, Aquarius Engines, claims that it has completely reinvented the internal combustion engine.
The company claims that their new engine will completely rewrite the classic design of the internal combustion engine with its multiple thrusting pistons, replacing them with a single piston that moves from side-to-side. It has fewer than 20 parts and powers the vehicle through this single side-to-side action of the solitary piston, the company said.
The fewer number of moving parts and reduced engine complexity makes production much easier and less expensive. It also reduces the power demands on the engine.
Fewer parts also means less wear and tear, less chances of breakdowns, and overall improvement in the life of the engine, thereby drastically reducing cost-of-ownership.
In tests by the German engineering company FEV, the Aquarius engine’s efficiency was more than double that of traditional engines.
Such efficiency is vital as countries seek to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for their transportation needs, the burning of which is a main cause of climate change.
“It is the highest efficiency you will probably meet,” co-founder Gal Fridman told AFP at the company’s offices near the Israeli commercial capital of Tel Aviv.
Aquarius also states that its engine has an, “exceptionally high power-to-weight/size ratio.
According to a report by AFP, Aquarius Engines is already in talks with the French auto manufacturer Peugeot to sell it their engines which are being priced at only $100 per unit.”It has the lowest emissions and the highest power-to-weight ratio.” A Peugeot spokesman said: “We are discussing with them, as with many other start-ups, without obligation or a specific project.”
For Peugeot and others, the engine could help them compete with the growing popularity of electric cars, John German, senior fellow at the International Council on Clean Transportation, said.
He said the engine would work best as part of a plug-in hybrid system, with manufacturers looking at “the idea of putting a smaller, inexpensive, range extender” alongside a battery and motor.
The radical new design of the Aquarius engine would necessitate a stark divergence in conventional engine manufacturing techniques. It remains to be seen whether the company would be able to bring it to the market in a cost-effective manner in time to keep pace with the rapid innovations being done to eliminate the one major Achilles heel of electric car technology: limited battery capacity.
A full 120 years after internal combustion engines replaced the humble horse as the driving force for automotive transportation, the race is on. Once again.