Joint Project Funded by ARPA-E Is First Initiative for New Ricardo-Achates Partnership

Joint Project Funded by ARPA-E Is First Initiative for New Ricardo-Achates Partnership
09 September 2020

Government backing for recently expanded North American powertrain team is designed to boost overall efficiency in full-size pickup trucks.

The newly-formed partnership between Ricardo North America (Ricardo) and Achates Power Inc. (API) of San Diego, Calif., has already received its first assignment: an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) grant to improve overall efficiency and reduce emissions in full-size pick-up trucks.

Ricardo, engineering specialists in advanced propulsion, software, thermal management and vehicle systems, added to its powertrain design/development capabilities in June when it partnered with API and expanded its Southern California team.  The agreement allowed API, which has been engaged with ARPA-E for several years, to tap into Ricardo’s powertrain know-how to support the continuation of its advanced engine developments with ARPA-E and create a clear path toward production applications. 

ARPA-E, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies and awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store and use energy.  The grant serves as a bridge between the private sector and the government for advancing technologies that improve the U.S. positions in energy sustainability and climate change.

“Reduced weight, higher energy efficiency and lower emissions.  That is the formula needed for the internal combustion engines of the future, and there is no application where the formula is more applicable or relevant than the U.S. light duty (pick-up) truck market,” says Ricardo President Marques McCammon, who has directed Ricardo’s transport businesses in Detroit, Chicago, Silicon Valley and San Diego since joining the company in October 2019 from Wind River Systems, where he led the global automotive team. “That is the promise of the API opposed piston engine technology. 

“We’re investing in people, aligning with the best and brightest companies and tackling projects that bring new technologies to transportation.  We aim to prove the validity of these cleaner technologies for the North American market so the potential of the research can manifest into reality on American roads.”

The new Gen II program builds upon the successful API Gen I opposed piston engine with a focus on efficiency, weight, emissions and power. The 3-cylinder engine will be comprised of a Gasoline Compression Ignition (GCI) combustion system, a novel boosting system, 48V electrification and advanced manufacturing techniques to minimize engine weight.

“The ARPA-E grant is designed to solve hard problems,” says API Chief Technical Officer Fabien Redon. “With Ricardo’s world-class design expertise, we will incorporate diesel-like combustion into a gasoline engine while adding the efficiency of an opposed piston design. The groundbreaking result will be a highly efficient gasoline engine with diesel-like levels of performance that can be cost-effective to deploy at scale.”