Sunday, March 29, 2009

Achates Power

For those close followers of the blog, you may have noticed that I missed Friday's post. It was because I was on a red-eye back from the West Coast after a whirlwind trip across Arizona and California.

One particular visit that I would like to note (though it has little bearing on LM directly) is my morning spent with Achates Power ('eh-KAY-teez') co-founder and CTO, Jim Lemke. Rarely have I met a man with such enthusiasm and knowledge for highly technical engine start-ups as Jim. He has been at it since the early 1950's and is an inspiration to me and, I am sure, many others.

Achates is a new lightweight, clean-diesel engine manufacturer, who has refined, reinvented, and made real a technology from the dust-bin of diesel history. Much of what they have accomplished is secret, and their website makes it pretty clear that they are running dark.

What they can say is that they started with the baseline of a Junkers Jumo engine (205-208 series) and have created a revolution of efficiency and low-emissions in diesel. With over 40 iterations, under his belt, Lemke has doggedly pursued the engine and its flaws to a resulting tour de force of diesel engineering. The Junkers Jumo was pehaps last seen as a German long range diesel powerlant for the Luftwaffe.

(Junkers Jumo - Wikipedia)

Lighter than you can imagine and fewer parts than you've ever seen in a diesel, the Achates diesel technology has the real potential to change the diesel world.

Though they do not intend to make production engines, Achates will be licensing the technology to automakers and allowing them to develop tailored solutions. In this way, this new start-up will be taking those companies and us, as consumers, to new heights. I expect that this will do even more to redefine the way that we think about diesel in America and the way that we perceive engine innovation in the US.

Perhaps we will even one day see a Junkers Jumo in a Local Motors vehicle.


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