The tiny engine consists of a mere 20 components, only one of which moves. Although originally designed to burn petrol, it could conceivably operate on a variety of fuels including the latest ‘dropin’ carbon-neutral, synthetic liquid fuels, and a hydrogen version of the engine has been developed and tested. The Aquarius is called a linear engine, because instead of converting reciprocating forces into rotating forces via a crankshaft like a conventional piston engine, the single piston rod moves to and fro on a two-stroke cycle, firing on each stroke of the piston, at each end of the cylinder. The Aquarius engine comprises one piston rod (a long bar with a piston at its mid-point); a small cylinder block in which the piston slides; two cylinder heads, one on each end of the block; two inner bearings and two outer bearings, which support the piston rod. The air-cooled engine needs no lubrication and instead has graphite piston rings and special coatings to reduce friction. The lack of oil rules out any chance of leaks or unburned hydrocarbons being produced during combustion and it simplifies servicing, which, its designers say, is minimal and required only every 1000 hours of operation. In that time, a hybrid car could comfortably travel more than 50,000 miles.

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