• Apr 3rd 2011 at 5:05PM
  • 20
Pinnacle Engines unveiled what it calls a "breakthrough ultra-efficient engine" designed to significantly reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without increasing a vehicle's cost. Here's the tech behind Pinnacle's "breakthrough" engine:

The mill is based on a four-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture that Pinnacle says cuts fuel consumption by 30-50 percent (!) compared to a conventional gasoline engine. The mill's performance has, according to Pinnacle, been independently verified by FEV, Inc.

The core of Pinnacle's technology resides in its "Cleeves Cycle," named after James Montague (Monty) Cleeves, founder of Pinnacle. The Cleeves cycle can switch back and forth from the Otto cycle (constant volume combustion) to the Diesel cycle (constant pressure combustion) depending on operating conditions. The result, says Pinnacle, is an engine that's ultra-efficient and compatible with most fuels including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and biofuels.

And from the mouth of Monty Cleeves came these promising words:
This engine technology provides the fuel economy and CO2 emissions of a hybrid at a price that the whole world can afford.
Pinnacle aims to commercialize this fuel-sipping engine technology by 2013 and has raised $13.5 million in venture funding from NEA, Bessemer Venture Partners and Infield Capital. Let's hope Pinnacle's so-called game-changing technology lives up to the hype.

[Source: Pinnacle Engines]
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Pinnacle Engines Introduces its Ultra-Efficient Combustion Engine

Top Investors Commit $13.5 Million; Former Cummins Executive Ron Hoge Named Chairman and CEO
San Carlos CA – March 31, 2011

Pinnacle Engines today unveiled plans to commercialize a breakthrough ultra-efficient engine by 2013. The new engine design enables significant reductions in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without increasing vehicle cost. Pinnacle also announced it has raised $13.5 million in venture funding from NEA, Bessemer Venture Partners and Infield Capital.

Advancing the Internal Combustion Engine
While electrification of the worldwide vehicle fleet presents a promising long-term solution, the costs of wide-scale deployment are high. As a result, the global vehicle fleet in 2050 is expected to rely mostly on the internal combustion engine as its prime mover.

Leveraging years of research and development and more than 500 hours of dynamometer testing, Pinnacle Engines' ultra-efficient engine is based on a four-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture. It achieves 30 – 50% better fuel economy in various drive cycle comparisons without the large cost penalty normally associated with dramatic fuel economy improvement. The performance of the Pinnacle Engines design has been independently verified by FEV, Inc., a globally recognized leader in engine development and a Pinnacle Engines development partner.

"Engines that can deliver significant efficiencies within 5 – 10 years are critical as the global demand for vehicles places a strain on both natural resources and the environment," said Rohini Chakravarthy, Pinnacle Board member and a Partner at NEA. "We believe Pinnacle Engines is in a unique position to have a major impact in that timeframe, by delivering exceptional efficiency gains at the lowest possible cost."

The core of Pinnacle's technology resides in its unique engine architecture and its Cleeves Cycle. The Cleeves Cycle operates on the Otto cycle (constant volume combustion) or Diesel cycle (constant pressure combustion) depending on operating conditions. Additional efficiency improvements will be realized through incorporation of variable valve timing, direct injection, turbocharging, and Pinnacle's own low-cost variable compression ratio mechanism. The result is a fundamentally more fuel efficient and scalable engine design, and one that is compatible with most fuels including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and their biofuel replacements (e.g., ethanol).

The patented Pinnacle Engines architecture and the innovative Cleeves Cycle are the culmination of over 100 years of combustion engine design, and forty years of research and innovation by founder and CTO Monty Cleeves – a long-time innovator in multiple fields, and a dedicated student of engine design. "This engine technology provides the fuel economy and CO2 emissions of a hybrid at a price that the whole world can afford," says Cleeves.

Global Opportunity
The company is in the process of commercializing its technology through a joint development and licensing agreement with an Asian vehicle OEM. Production is slated to commence in Q1 2013. Further developments, including plans for expansion into the global automotive market, will be revealed later this year.

"By 2016, more than 200 million combustion engines will be manufactured globally. Pinnacle technology could make them considerably more efficient while dramatically reducing the costs required to achieve those efficiencies," states Ron Hoge, Pinnacle's new Chairman and CEO. "Monty Cleeves' lifelong dream to design a much more efficient internal combustion engine is becoming a reality. The opportunity to be a part of this exciting new engine company with its game-changing technology and capability to scale quickly and affordably was something I couldn't pass up."

Hoge has forty years of business experience with executive leadership roles in eight different companies, from Fortune 500 firms to venture-backed startups. His background includes positions as the president and CEO of Cummins Power Generation (Onan), president and CEO of Magnetek, and president of a $1.5 billion aerospace division of Allied Signal. He has led businesses on three continents through their startup, growth, reorganization and disposition phases. He is also a director at two other energy efficiency startups, Glacier Bay, Inc., and NovaTorque, Inc.

About Pinnacle Engines
Pinnacle Engines is a Silicon Valley-based technology company founded to address the immediate need for a more efficient internal combustion engine. Its founders pioneered the ultra efficient Pinnacle Engines' architecture and its Cleeves Cycle while leveraging traditional low-cost engine materials and manufacturing techniques. Pinnacle's novel engine design addresses the growing need for more efficient internal combustion engines and will have a significant global impact on the transportation sector's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

For more information please visit www.pinnacle-engines.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      The PatOP opposed piston engine at http://www.pattakon.com/pattakonPatOP.htm is a single-crankshaft vibration-free direct injection Diesel.
      By nature it is a crosshead engine (like the giant Sulzer marine engines) yet a short one: the height of the first PatOP prototype is 500mm (635cc capacity, 79.5mm bore, 64+64=128mm stroke).
      The crosshead architecture is vital for engines like the EcoMotors’ OPOC because it frees the piston skirts from the thrust loads, allowing four-stroke-like lubrication and lubricant consumption.
      The crosshead is also important for engines like the Pinnacle, because it frees the reciprocating cylinder liner from additional loads, deformation, friction and weight.

      The full balanced PatOP engine is short and compact because it doesn’t need an opposed cylinder (case of the OPOC of EcoMotors) to get vibration-free, as shown in the videos wherein the PatOP is running on Diesel fuel, standing free on a desk.

      The variable capacity (stackable modules) technology of EcoMotors has some weaknesses, as explained at http://www.pattakon.com/pattakonPatPOC.htm .

      For divided load applications, like a range extender with two counter-rotating electric generators, the two-crankshaft OPRE opposed piston engine at http://www.pattakon.com/pattakonOPRE.htm is simpler, lighter, cheaper and more compact than the two-crankshaft opposed piston Achates and Pinnacle engines.

      Both, the PatOP and the OPRE engines, are characterized by a substantially longer piston dwell near the combustion dead center: they provide some 35% additional time as compared to the Pinnacle, and some 20% additional time as compared to the EcoMotors’ OPOC, for the injection, penetration, vaporization and combustion of the Diesel fuel, improving the fuel efficiency at medium low revs and increasing the power concentration by providing the peak power at higher revs.

      It would be nice EcoMotors, Achates-power and Pinnacle to comment on the above.

      Manousos Pattakos
      • 4 Years Ago
      Irrelevant, yet interesting.
      The industry needed some 40years to leap from a 4-stroke advance-compensated ignition and vaccum carburateur for 30mpg.
      Now (last 10years) a few companies playing with known/textbook variations of it, to fool a couple of investors that think 50% better means 50% less fuel... it won't fly.
      Save your money and hopes of a 80mpg 2ton SUV...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I say forget gasoline engines except in the process of generating electricity to extend battery powered vehicles! Oil is eventually going to run out or be cut off so why not use this kind of design for hybrid construction. Then it could even sip less gas if set to charge the battery when in use throughout the day!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just My opinion but where this design would be of greatest help would be replacing the staggering number of dirty little 2-cycle's of the world.
      I wish them the best of luck.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ...except almost all of those engines are used in applications where their small size, weight and price are important factors. This engine doesn't appear to have any of those attributes - so I doubt it will be a game changer in the small 2-stroke engine market.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As far as this type of motor goes I think the Ecomotor is the better design, It's odd that this drawing shows the Intake/Exhaust ports at the top of the pistons travel while in the Ecomotors animation it shows both ports being at the bottom of travel.
      Bill Gates and Navistar (heavy trucks) have invested heavily in Ecomotor which makes me curious, I think I'll hold my opinion on these until I see some kind of independant tests.

        • 4 Years Ago
        The ports are near TDC because per the description this engine uses the 4-stroke cycle with sleeve valves.

        I don't know about the ecomotor but it's probably of the more common 2-stroke type, where the gas flow is controlled by the pistons.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Could anyone convince me that this engine set-up is 30-50% more efficient? Am I missing something? Thanks in advance!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think that anyone could convince you, but it appears to be more efficient to me. For one, a single spark plug could act as two. The explosion might be more efficient because it's being used for two pistons instead of one with the rest of the energy being dissipated as heat. I'm not an engineer or anything, but that's how I see it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, it's got mechanical issues:
        - large-gap 3-cylinder power delivery, requiring larger, heavier flywheel to smooth things
        - huge counterweights for every piston, along with
        - extra complexity of integrating 2 drive shafts into a single output.
        - big difficulty as a swap-in for the vast bulk of transverse engine bays
        - frictional losses similar to (or greater than) inline-6 / boxer -6

        Compared to the elegance of an inline 6 or boxer 6, which give smooth power and don't require counterweights or balancers, this engine seems to be more complexity for little gain.

        Current application would swap for boxer in existing Subie / 911 chassis, but really needs a car designed around the engine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, it does eliminate the cylinder heads for each pair of cylinders, that does reduce the heat loss through the cylinder head, thus improves efficiency. But I doubt it would be that big of an improvement, heat engines are inherently limited in their efficiency.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can believe 30-50% more efficient, since a modified Atkinson can hit about 30% efficiency over a comparable Otto cycle engine (making it 50% more efficient than the 20% of an Otto). However that doesn't mean the engine is actually between 30%and 50% efficient. After all, it has all the inherent inefficiencies of a piston engine, just looks at all those friction surfaces, rings, crankshaft, etc. Most piston engine efficiencies are lost just moving itself.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can tell that this is not feasible. The weak link is the SLEEVE VALVE.

      Unless the sleeve valves can survive the high pressure and high temperature of combustion while maintaining it's tight tolerance and not being deformed and do it for more than 100 thousand miles, I say this is vaporware.

      The 2-stroke OPOC engine with in-cylinder fuel injector is more doable but the efficiency gain would still not be significantly higher than a well designed atkinson engine such as that used by a prius.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Some weaknesses of the Pinnacle engine are:
        the sealing, the lubrication and the wear of the sleeve valves;
        the cooling of the cylinder;
        the lubricant control (the same problem with the two stroke port engines).

        The question is:
        does the Pinnacle combine the advantages of the four-stroke engines with the advantages of the two-stroke opposed-piston engines, or does it combine their disadvantages?

        The four-stroke opposed-piston single-crankshaft full-balanced PatFour engine (at the bottom of the http://www.pattakon.com/pattakonPatPOC.htm page)
        uses four conventional poppet valves.

        Do you see any advantage of the Pinnacle engine over the PatFour?

        Manousos Pattakos
      • 2 Years Ago
      pinnacle generator powered automobile ?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Reminds me of the Ecomotors engine which is also suppose to be 30-50% more efficient.
      • 3 Years Ago
      During the second world war, there was a great many British aircraft piston engines with sleeve valves instead of poppet valves. They seemed to work very satisfactory . American engines used poppet valves. However there was one big difference, the sleeve valve engines were liquid cooled, American aircraft piston engines were air cooled. Sleeve valves have been used in several instances on vehicles as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Most efficient Diesel engines have thermal efficiencies of 50 % for a 80 MW two-stroke diesel engine at 100 rpm (marine installations; locomotives are only a few MW). However, typically diesel engine has an efficiency of around 20 % (light passenger vehicles and portable generators).

      To compare, a cell efficiency of 40-70 % is achieved by PEMFC. Microturbines fly in the ranges of 10-25 % depending on simple-combined cycle.
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