Engine

Witness The Operation Of The Bizarre Opposed Piston Combustion Engine

Probably the most ludicrous but mesmerizing way to keep the internal combustion engine alive.

Just like a fighter stuck on the ropes struggling to stay conscious while punches pummel his guts, engineers at today’s car manufacturers are fighting tooth and nail to keep the internal combustion engine alive using their wit, creativity, and a touch of madness. It’s that kind of ingenuity that’s led to engines like Infiniti’s variable compression ratio engine or Mazda’s SkyActiv X power plant. And then there’s this. Call it Frankenstein for all we care—it truly is otherworldly—but for the sake of accuracy we’ll call this engine what it is.

If you haven’t been previously introduced, meet the Achates Power opposed combustion engine. As the latter portion of its name implies, this engine defies convention by taking a boxer engine, cutting it down the middle, chucking off the heads, and flipping each set of cylinders so they now face each other.

As you might imagine, there’s quite a lot more involved in the process of building it. For one, there are two crankshafts—one at either end of the opposing pistons—and given the lack of heads, the components and byproducts of the combustion process must be piped in and pushed out through holes in the cylinder wall. And then there’s the fact that the pistons push off each other during the ignition process. Like the SkyActiv X, this engine is similar (in the loosest sense of the word) in the way that it uses pump gas but still ignites the fuel/air mixture using compression ignition like a diesel. Gotta love the ingenuity that the pressure of extinction brings about.

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