by John S. Major Jr.
Regional Vice President, Mid-West Operations, Achates Power, Inc.
Heading into the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Global Force Symposium and Exposition last week in Huntsville, Alabama, I had no idea what to really expect from the event this year. This was my seventh AUSA, spread amongst three different locales, and I still have several stacks of business cards in my office from these events from years past, and the days of MRAP.
While normally at conferences such as this, I am prepared to offer published data to answer questions regarding Achates Power technology, but this time we were able to offer additional validation – the announcement of our $14 million dollar military engine project.
Becoming public knowledge just that day, I was finally able to talk about how Achates’ class-leading technology, coupled with Cummins manufacturing strength and design expertise had been chosen by NAMC (National Advanced Mobility Consortium) and TARDEC to develop a Single Cylinder Advanced Combat Engine Technology Demonstrator – something that is an integral part of the Army’s 30 year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles. After a full day walking the floor and reconnecting with folks that now have business card stacks similar to mine, there was a palpable buzz about the Achates Engine leading into day two.
Day two culminated for Achates Power with our CEO, David Johnson, presenting to an auditorium of over 200 people in a “Tech Ten” talk right before the Honorable Heidi Shyu took the stage. This audience was technically savvy enough to understand the “holy grail” of Army powertrain needs, including how the importance of overall power pack volumetric density drive requirements for low heat rejection to coolant, high fuel efficiency, and high volumetric power density for the engine. David Johnson also explained more about technical achievements of these key points including benchmark comparisons to other military engines and how a combat engine family strategy can drive a cost and logistics advantage.
The gravity of the potential impact of the Achates Engine opposed piston design, paired with the production know-how of Cummins, could be physically felt in the room. GEN Sullivan, USA ret, even commented on the excitement that the presentation and technology had generated. And those who know GEN Sullivan know that when he talks, people listen.
Heading to the airport with a new stack of cards and a solidified sense of purpose, it was hard to lament the two months’ worth of contact follow-ups that I had helped make for myself. It was nice to know, and see first-hand, that an organization with a mission as important as the US Army’s, that even they recognized the value and the potential of Achates Power’s technology. All of us at API have believed in the value and potential for some time, but as we progress in our development and share our findings, it is becoming very clear to us and others, that this technology is going the change the world.