Plastic Engines?

Here’s something I didn’t know.  There’s a compnay that’s been around for several years, and it makes plastic internal combustion engines.  The New York Times reports on Matti Holtzberg, an engineer in New Jersey, whose been building these things for quite a while.

Apparently, back in 1984 and 1985, he even raced a Ford Pinto with a plastic engine, and its only failure in the International Motor Sports Association’s Camel Lights series was a busted con rod–a bad part from a supplier (I wonder if it’s the same one that supplied the con rods for the Aprilia RSV4 Rs that went TU during the press launch?).

Anyway, the guy took an 88HP Pinto, pulled the 415-lb hunk of Ford iron from under the hood, and replaced it with a 152-lb plastic engine that put out 300 HP.

Obviously, there are difficulties replacing steel and aluminum in current engines.  And, of course, with aluminum engines, the plastic–polymer, actually–bits would only cut the weight by 30%.  Still, 30% is a signifigant savings. Imagine, if you will, a 250HP motorcycle that weighs 340 pounds.

Uh.  Hmmm.  Actually…that’s kind of scary.


Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.