There might be a reason...
Boxer engines (water cooled, of all makes) have a reputation for being
hard on headgaskets. That's at gasoline compression pressures (150-175
psi?) so what do you suppose might happen at diesel pressures of 300-400
Then there's all the other stuff that needs to be beefed up to make a
"good" diesel. It's a bit more involved than just slapping higher
compression heads on a "gas" engine (ask GM how well they did w/ that
approach in the '80s!) A good diesel's gotta start from ground up. But
automotive bean counters don't like that approach if they think they can
avoid it (even at the cost of future problems.)
At the risk of seeming like a dinosaur, may I suggest there's VERY
little in automotive engine design that hasn't been tried, sometimes
much earlier than we'd imagine. Good designs survive, bad ones often get
"revived" under the "I just had this great idea but didn't check to see
if it's been done before" philosophy. However, few of those that were
turkeys the first time turn into eagles the next.
It would be nice if I'm proven wrong this time, as I'm a believer small
diesels are more a part of our immediate future than hybrids and all the
other darlings of the industry today.
The artical does not say that EcoMotors building a diesel "boxer", it
says they are building an "opposed piston/opposed cylinder" diesel
engine. This design has 4 pistons in 2 cylinders. From Wikipedia:
"An opposed piston engine is one in which the cylinders are double-
ended, with a piston at each end and no cylinder head. Some variations
of the Opposed Piston or OP designs can use a single crankshaft like
the Doxford ship engines  and the Commer OP truck engines  They
should not be confused with a flat engine, which is referred to as
horizontally opposed, or sometimes as a "Boxer" engine."
But only one crank. There is an article from 2005 with a diagram of what
they are probably talking about here
Interestingly it links to a magazine article by Peter Hofbauer from 1999
Peter Hofbauer is chairman of APT and CEO of EcoMotors. The recent article
says he hopes to have something out by 2011 (depending).
He has had 9 years since the magazine article to make something practical
that works and wants another 3 years (depending). Despite the current green
eco-bullshit fervour I expect he will still be making more press releases
than engines in another decade.
The Zoche aero-diesel is a pretty interesting design also.
I met the son of the designer and handled some of the parts
of these engines a few years back. I've often thought about
the advantages of using one of these in a car: <http://www.zoche.de
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