How You Funded Some of the World's Greatest Technologies, Including Fruit Ninja

By Jordan Robertson - 2014-04-01T16:13:22Z

Courtesy EcoMotors

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OPOC Engine

DARPA not only wants cars to drive themselves, it wants their mileage to put the current generation of hybrid vehicles to shame.

One of the projects the Defense agency has funded is the opposed-piston opposed-cylinder (OPOC) engine, which was developed as a way to increase the driving range of U.S. Army tanks.

An OPOC engine uses pistons moving in opposite directions to generate more power, a design that uses half as many parts as traditional engines, lowers the weight and increases fuel economy. The approach is centered on the idea that using the engine's internal forces to counteract each other can increase its output.

The technology is now being commercialized by EcoMotors, which is trying to deliver an engine that can run on 100 miles per gallon. The Allen Park, Michigan-based company has received venture funding from Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures. In March, EcoMotors said it partnered with FAW Jingye Engine, which will build a $200 million factory in China. That factory is expected to make 100,000 engines annually beginning next year.

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