Sequoia-Backed Achates Fuels Cleaner Diesel

achatesThe century-old diesel engine is getting a fresh, 21st century, “cleaner” treatment. Diesel was back in style at the Detroit Auto Show and there are a couple startups working on cleaner diesel engines that have come onto the scene recently.

San Diego-based Achates Power, is one of the newer players, and the “in-stealth” company is working on a high-efficiency two-stroke diesel engine that has higher power density (the amount of power the engine produces per its size) and lower emissions. The company is backed by Sequoia Capital, Rockport Capital Partners, Interwest Partners and Madrone Capital.

VentureWire alerted us to the company’s backers this morning. Getting cleantech funding from Sequoia is hard to do, given the firm places few cleantech investments, apart from A123 Systems. Right now Achates is being quiet about its technology, and when we contacted them they declined to comment. According to the company’s job postings, they are looking for a number of fluid dynamics scientists and engine engineers.

Khosla Ventures also has a number of high-efficiency combustion engine projects to its portfolio. This includes investments in EcoMotors, which is working on a 100 mpg diesel engine, and Transonic Combustion, which is working on an more efficient combustion engines.

Investments in the slow-moving $250 billion-a-year engine market have been a little outside the norm for some these Silicon Valley VC giants, but as cleantech and efficiency technologies heat up, it looks like making traditional engines greener is getting more and more of the other kind of green. The future of diesel technology will be vehicles that sip fuel rather than guzzle gasoline.