Inventor of the Orbital Engine and founder of the Orbital Engine Company (Australia) Pty Ltd which developed the Orbital Combustion Process (OCP) engine, based on the two stroke concept. The Combustion Process component of the Engine was described in the eighties by the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) for NASA, as the “cutting edge of world engine technology”. International emission testing laboratories confirmed the Australian results.
Fuel economy advantages of 50% were demonstrated against the best outboard marine engines and 20-25% under typical automobile operating conditions. Additional savings of 5-10% were considered readily achievable with further development. This was accompanied by a massive reduction in the “direct engine out” of several key emissions gases.
The OCP technology has been sold as intellectual property to many – automobile, marine and motorcycle manufacturers. It has been incorporated in many production engines today to varying degrees; namely from complete systems to the improvement of their own technology, via knowledge gained from their IP purchases.
All licensing payments were conditional upon the delivery of engines meeting numerous high emissions standards, fuel economies and other technical criteria. No delivery failed to meet these prior to Sarich’s retirement in 1992 resulting in no dependant monetary penalties ever being incurred to this point in time.
In 1991, Ralph Sarich had led Orbital to the US where it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange and raised AUD 189 million (2012 $s), AUD 113.8 million (’92 $s), from a public offering in the US.
In January 1992, General Motors displayed its newest concept car called the “Ultralite”, incorporating OCP technology, as its centrepiece at the Detroit International Auto Show. In April 1992, another of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers signed an agreement to take a licence for the OCP technology.
Today, China’s second largest manufacturer of passenger cars is utilising the OCP technology with positive results on critical second phase of Chongqing Changan’s advanced engine development.
A former Executive/Engineer confirmed the OCP had passed the Pre-Production Validation Test where it used the Sarich’s engine technology on their Ford Fiesta which is now displayed at the Sparkford Motor Museum in Somerset. Quote-“The performance was terrific & the exhaust noise made it sound like a racer.”
The public perception is that because Orbital Corporation doesn’t manufacture and sell engines its success is inexplicitly doubted, when in fact it became a company which has sold IP to manufacturers in various fields to help improve their own engines. This is reflected, in the fiscal years 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 Orbital’s profit was AUD150 million (’12 $s) AUD92 million (’92 $s).
Orbital’s strong performance in 1991/1992 had advanced the group to its most impressive, recorded audited pre-tax profit for the 1991/92 fiscal year of AUD54 million (’12 $s), AUD32.7 million (’92 $s), an increase of 28.7% over the 1990/91.
Orbital’s capitalised value upon Ralph Sarich’s retirement as CEO in 1992 was in excess of AUD 1 billion at the time. Over AUD200 million at the time in cash, receivables, and research value convertible to cash, were scheduled for commercial investment as insurance against excessive dependence on the auto industry. Namely, he deemed it prudent to convert a component of the risk element into relatively secure investments in synergetic corporations for the good of shareholders and employees as patents expired and hence related IP income ceases. Since his retirement, the management chose not to follow this direction and instead spent these funds on further research, thereby, prompting him to sell his equity.
Today he is Chairman of Cape Bouvard Investments. Founded in 1986 Cape Bouvard Investments is now recognised as one of Australia's largest private investment companies. Renowned for setting new benchmarks in residential living, commercial buildings, and exciting new technologies, including a revolutionary linear wind generator which is expected to substantially cut electricity production costs. Owning some 3,250 acres (1,300 hectares) of prime oceanfront property on the West and East Coasts of Australia. His son, Peter, is responsible for the day to day activities.