by David Johnson
President & CEO, Achates Power, Inc.
This week, I was pleased to attend and present at a workshop hosted by MITRE on the topic of expeditionary power and energy. MITRE is a non-profit organization that applies their deep technical capabilities to support the U.S. Department of Defense and other branches of the U.S. government. Topics addressed in the workshop covered every aspect of energy—from well to wheels, including biofuels, storage, transmission, conversion and usage. It is clear that an “all of the above” approach to energy is necessary to support our troops, just as it is to improve our environment and economy via better passenger and commercial vehicles.
It is amazing to consider the massive logistical chain that supports our troops. Our military uses 1% of all the fuel consumed in the U.S., to the tune of more than $20 billion a year. Sixty percent of that fuel is purchased from non-domestic sources. Meanwhile, our military vehicles are getting between 4 and 8 MPG. Of course, these are heavy vehicles and surely they are supporting substantial electrical and climate control loads and are likely idling quite a bit. Nonetheless, it is clear there is ample opportunity and need for improvement.
So I’m very pleased that we are making rapid progress on our Next-Generation Combat Engine development program. When fielded, these engines will reduce fuel usage in military vehicles by 30-40%. If you’ve been reading our blog and technical papers, you might be surprised by this figure—since we are typically touting our 20% demonstrated advantage. But that 20% advantage is versus the best production engines on the market today. Unfortunately, our fielded vehicles don’t have the most efficient engines and so our technology provides an even bigger step forward for the military.
The Next-Generation Combat Engine is a good start. We look forward to improving all the engines for our military, including those used for power generation, marine applications and UAVs. We need to work in parallel to bring our solution to production and fielding ASAP. It is only with fielding that we can start saving fuel and lives.