It’s funny to hear George Coates declare: “We’d be in the Dark Ages without the combustion engine,” considering he’d like to see the existing engine become as extinct as the dinosaurs. That’s because, to Coates, a combustion engine running on petroleum fuel is a dinosaur, with outlived usefulness in today’s complex society requiring engines that can run on alternative fuels, particularly natural gas.
Indeed, as the U.S. Senate takes up the debate on climate change legislation, it is also offering incentives that encourage the use of natural gas-powered vehicles, considering a plentiful domestic supply and a growing market for natural gas as a vehicle fuel, particularly for large fleet operators.
Coates, of course, is fully on the side of such incentives. “Natural gas is the right way to go. It’s not possible to gain the same efficiencies with existing engines. We’ve done experimentation for years on natural gas engines.” The “we” includes Coates and his son, Gregory, who began their research in Ireland and then, lacking sufficient backing, took their innovation to the United States, settling in Wall Township, N.J.
What Coates and his son invented – and are presenting to today’s marketplace – is a patented spherical rotary valve CSRV industrial internal combustion engine, developed over a period of more than six years. The CSRV system is adaptable to combustion engines of many types and currently has been adapted to a number of practical applications including industrial generators powered by engines incorporating the CSRV technology and designed to run on flare-off gas from oil wells, landfill gas and raw natural gas.
The company is actively engaged in planning for production and rollout of these engines, and expects to have completed engines ready for pickup by Well to Wire, Energy, Inc. in Canada before the end of the year. In addition, Coates has recently completed the technological development of a diesel truck engine, which incorporates the CSRV system suitable for the trucking industry. The diesel truck engine is expected to achieve improved fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions.
Unfortunately, such innovation, which takes people out of their petroleum comfort zone, has been slow to take hold and Coates well remembers a conversation with GM executives three years ago when he was trying to sell them on the idea of an alternative fuel engine. “I told them alternative fuels are the future, at 60-70 miles per gallon and they said no,” he recalls with obvious frustration, reflecting: “You have people in managerial positions deciding to do everything tomorrow.”
As GM was to learn, tomorrow was something it didn’t have. And Coates merrily went on his way, perfecting an engine that is able to run efficiently in virtually any moving vehicle, from trains and cars to ships and aircraft to lawnmowers and generators. Its production, Coates says, will enable the company to create “12,000 good jobs in any state.” Coates currently operates in a 30,000-square-foot plant in Wall and possibly another 100,000 square feet in nearby Howell, N.J., but also plans to open four facilities in states that could include Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
“The biggest industry in the world is combustion engines,” Coates says, lauding the progress made since their invention 100 years ago. “They’ve really grown very sophisticated in the last 30 years.”
NEXT STOP: CHINA
The Chinese, Coates says, are extremely interested in the CSRV engine and the company is ready to enter into a joint effort with the Chinese. The proposed agreement is constructed in three steps: Coates will supply a prototype CSRV engine for testing and validation of the technological benefits at the Clean Energy Automotive Engineering Research Center, in Shanghai, China. Upon completion of testing, the next phase of the agreement provides for setting-up a mass production facility to manufacture the Coates CSRV engines and products in China, with Chinese business partners. The agreement is currently targeting this step for the end of 2009.
The company, while “very enthusiastic about this opportunity in China” understands the undertaking is complex, with “extensive details” that need to be addressed. Nonetheless, Coates has already begun production of a prototype test engine, which is a straight four-cylinder 1600cc CSRV gasoline engine, with a compression ratio of 13 to 1, sequential fuel injection and computerized functional controls. The engine is expected to be completed by the end of August of 2009.
In the meantime, Coates continues its relationship with Well to Wire Energy, Inc. (WWE) and expects to have commercial electric power engine generators, engineered for use with alter-
native fuels including flare-off gas from oil wells, landfill gas and raw natural gas, ready for pickup by WWE before the end of the current year. Orders have already been placed with suppliers for production inventory and parts, and Coates has been formally notified by WWE that orders could reach more than 7,400 of these engines and generators over the next five years.
“Commencement of our production phase puts us on the path towards realizing our ultimate mission with this technology: making a significant contribution to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign imported oil and mitigating the deleterious effects of global warming and helping reduce the cost of fuel at the pump,” Coates said at the time of the WWE announcement. “We are in the process of reorganizing the layout of our existing facility to accommodate a number of engine/generator production stations to fulfill initial orders. In addition, we will be staffing up for this production by hiring plant workers, as appropriate.
WWE has previously conducted its own unrestricted independent tests of the Coates Generators at Coates’ facility to ensure that the engines were manufactured to their specifications. At the conclusion of their testing, “WWE left our offices so enthused about the future benefits from our CSRV engine generators that Bryan Campbell, CEO of WWE, immediately issued a letter to Mr. Coates confirming WWE’s ‘extreme satisfaction’.” In that letter, Campbell wrote, “It should be noted that energy use was measured at 27.5 percent to 30.4 percent less than what we presently experience with alternate engines. The CSRV natural gas fired engine will be used by Well to Wire in all of our future electrical power generation systems. I am extremely satisfied with the smoothness, the flawless operation, the very low energy use and the initial power output.”
ENGINE OF THE FUTURE
So, needless to say, this is some engine and Coates believes his company has developed and patented the most advanced internal combustion engine ever built. Tests have shown that the CSRV Combustion Engine:
- reduces the consumption of fossil fuels by approximately 18 percent to 30 percent, depending on the engine application and the type of fuels used;
- has the capabilities of running on many different types of alternative and renewable fuels such as compressed liquid hydrogen, ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel, propane, natural gas, butane, and any combustible engine fuel, including combinations and mixtures of these fuels.
Coates maintains that if the company’s CSRV systems were utilized in the U.S. on just registered vehicles, (the CSRV can be retrofitted to engines of all sizes; and types), an 18 percent to 30 percent savings in fuel consumption would equate to savings of approximately $160 billion each year in the U.S. alone, reducing, or possibly eliminating, our dependency on imported foreign oil.
In addition, Coates has signed a letter of intent with Marathon Electric Manufacturing Corp. to supply generators and components for production of its Natural Gas Fueled Industrial CSRV Electric Power Generators. Marathon is one of the Regal Beloit Corporation family of companies. In other news, Coates has completed arrangements with Cummins Power Systems, LLC for the manufacture and supply of engine blocks and components on its CSRV and anticipates that the company will be sourcing components and manufacturing parts from approximately 40 other suppliers for its initial production ramp-up. Coates also approached training centers and colleges in the geographical area where it is contemplating establishing manufacturing operations. These academic institutions have expressed interest in assisting the company with the task of training and developing new plant workers. Institutions that have expressed such an interest in training and developing the new employees include Northeast Technology Center (NTC), Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Northeastern Oklahoma College.
So the question remains: Are you ready for the Coates CSRV engine? By all accounts, you won’t have to wait long.