by Jacques Gordon
In some parts of the world, gasoline is almost impossible to find, while diesel fuel is available just about everywhere. Still, there’s a reason there are no single or twin-cylinder diesel engines in small vehicles and industrial/agricultural applications: the intense vibration inherent in a one- or two-cylinder diesel engine would quickly shake the machine apart. That’s why diesel engines have more cylinders and/or massive block and head castings. But Neander Motors GmbH and FEV have come up with an interesting solution.
The Neander engine’s piston has two connecting rods connected to two parallel crankshafts that are geared together. As the piston is driven down, the rods’ big-ends push away from each other at the top, so the cranks rotate ‘out’ at the top in opposite directions. Power can be taken from one or both crankshafts.
The twin counter rotating crankshafts are specifically aimed at reducing a diesel engine’s vibration. With just normal counterweights, all first-order vibrations and rotating inertial forces are virtually canceled out, which naturally and dramatically reduces all other vibration forces. Also, the piston moves straight in its bore, eliminating side forces and reducing internal friction. The result is a diesel engine smooth enough to be built with only one or two cylinders and castings light enough to be air cooled.
The Neander engine has all the normal advantages of a diesel engine – high torque, low specific fuel consumption and readily available fuel – in a package the same size and weight of a gasoline engine with the same displacement. However Neander claims their engines are roughly 10% more efficient than even conventional diesels. The company is concentrating on engines in displacements ranging from a 400 cc single to a 1400 cc twin, delivering 12 – 112 horsepower and 18 – 165 lb-ft of torque. The design has already been successfully run in a motorcycle as a 1340 cc air-cooled twin with a turbocharger, producing 112 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. It is currently under development as an outboard boat motor and is actively being marketed for stationary applications.
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