CARB Grant Looks At Opposed-Piston Diesels

The California Air Resource Board (CARB) has announced a $7 million dollar grant for a Class 8 truck that the board says will achieve a 90 percent reduction in NOx, and a 15 to 20 percent fuel efficiency improvement.

The project is part of CARB’s Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels Investments and Air Quality Improvement Program. CALSTART will serve as the project grantee and administrator.

The project will build and install Achates Power opposed-piston engines into Class 8 demonstration trucks that will operate in fleet service in California in 2020, the announcement said.

California’s ultra-low NOx emissions standard is 0.02 g/bhp/hr. This program is expected to demonstrate a diesel engine to comply with that state standard. In addition, the engine will emit 10 percent less CO2 than the 2027 federal greenhouse gas requirement, CARB said.

The project team, led by CALSTART, includes a heavy-duty truck manufacturer as well as suppliers in the powertrain and emissions industry. California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District also are investing in the project.

Funding for the grant comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Achates Power was founded in 2004 by Dr. James Lemke who is referred to on the company’s web site as a “serial entrepreneur with a history of founding and leading companies to successful exits.”  The website said Lemke founded Achates with an idea to revitalize the opposed-piston, two-stroke engine.

The history of opposed-piston, two-stroke diesel engines dates back to before 1900.  More recently, Fairbanks-Morse developed a two-stroke, opposed-piston diesel in the 1930s.  Those engines were similar to German Junkers aircraft diesels. The Fairbanks-Morse diesels were used in US diesel electric submarines in the 1940s and 1950s and as backup on many US nuclear submarines.  A slightly modified version, the model 38ND 8-1/8, continues in service on Los Angeles-, Seawolf-, and Ohio-class nuclear submarines of the US Navy. The 38 8-1/8 has been in continuous production since its development in 1938.

In January, Achates Power, Inc. and Saudi Aramco’s US-based subsidiary Aramco Services Company (ASC) announced a joint development agreement providing the framework to work together on a series of opposed-piston engine projects.

In September, 2017, Cummins Inc. executed a $47.4 million contract, awarded by the National Advanced Mobility Consortium, to develop and demonstrate a technologically advanced engine for the next generation of U.S. combat vehicles.  The Advanced Combat Engine (ACE) project, led by Cummins Corporate Research and Technology and supported by Achates Power, aligns well with the research and development work of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) as a component of the Army’s 30 year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles.

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