After Chandler resident Mark McCoin lost his job in November, he created what he believes is a revolutionary engine.
He said his "rotary opposed piston engine" is smaller and more fuel-efficient than existing engines, would be easier to manufacture because it has fewer parts, and is also a pumper-compressor. It can also run on steam and diesel, he said.
"It doesn’t have a crank or connecting rod, valves, push rods or lifters," said McCoin, laid off from his job as a machinist at Banner Machine in Phoenix. "It’s also a steam engine and a diesel engine. There’s literally thousands of applications."
J. Kevan Guy, a Boeing Phantom Works engineer and part of a group of engineers who are starting their own engineering consulting firm, said the design is impressive and could be big news someday.
"It is smaller, lighter-weight and less complex than the conventional piston engine, which rates it up there with the Wankel Rotary Engine," he said. "If the horsepower and efficiency numbers turn out to be in the ballpark with the preliminary calculations, then this could be considered a breakthrough device."
Dan McCoin, Mark McCoin’s father and a former nuclear power operator, came up with the original engine. McCoin had been tinkering with the design, but was able to spend more time developing it after he lost his job.
He has been trying to find another job, but hasn’t had any luck yet.
"I’ve put in over 100 resumes throughout the Valley and there’s a lot of competition," he said. "There’s several thousand machinists who are out of work right now."
Many machinists are out of work because the aerospace industry remains weak, said Jack York, an economist with the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
"A lot of the machine shops in the Valley are supplying parts to the aerospace industry, particularly commercial aviation, and that’s in a weakened state now," he said. "The orders for new airliners just aren’t there anymore like they once were."
Mark McCoin developed what he calls the first "true rotary engine," in which the pistons continually rotate in one direction.
"Even the Wankel Rotary Engine is not a true rotary," he said. "It’s still going through a crank shaft. This is half the size and has twice the power of the Wankel."
So far, Mark McCoin has completed a plastic model that demonstrates the rotary action of the pistons, as well as a steam-powered model.
A patent on the design is pending, and he is seeking funds to build and test gaspowered prototypes.
"Free-engine pistons have not been successful in the past, whereas now this is the first one that actually works," he said. "I’ve taken it from concept to actually, physically working now. I’ve proven the mechanics and now the next step is to prove my claims on the fuel efficiency, which is to build a combustion engine, test it and then license the technology."
Most vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine, in which gasoline is converted into fuel in a four-stroke process that includes intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.
"It takes eight revolutions for four power pulses in a conventional four-cylinder engine, whereas I get four power pulses for one revolution," Mark McCoin said. "This is a true rotary. The Wankel is considered a rotary but . . . it still goes through a crankshaft, which loses some efficiency."
In keeping with President Bush’s call for more hydrogen-powered cars, Mark McCoin said his engine could run on a variety of fuels, including hydrogen, and be much more fuellefficient.
"We’re talking about two and a half times the fuel efficiency just in combustion engines," he said. "We can greatly reduce our dependency on foreign oil if we just put our farmers back to work and grow corn again to make our own fuel."
Mark McCoin hopes to see his engine widely manufactured someday, which would in turn create more jobs and prevent people from finding themselves unemployed.
"It’s only limited to your imagination," he said. "There’s a little saying that I like: ‘There’s only one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.’ I believe that strongly."