Cummins to Design Combat Engines That Elude the Enemy

Posted: Updated:
The Advanced Combat Engine aims to deliver more power in a smaller package. The Advanced Combat Engine aims to deliver more power in a smaller package.

The monstrous, larger-than-life military tanks of tomorrow could be powered by Hoosier ingenuity. A recent $47 million defense contract delivers marching orders for Columbus-based Cummins Inc.: develop the next-generation engine to power U.S. combat vehicles, and it must be stronger, but smaller, and elusive to enemies’ efforts to spot it. The project is a milestone for Cummins, marking one of the largest research contracts the manufacturer has inked with the military.

The National Advanced Mobility Consortium, which awarded the contract, has tasked Cummins with three key requirements for the Advanced Combat Engine (ACE) project. Cummins Vice President of Research and Technology Wayne Eckerle says the most challenging is to reduce heat rejection by 21 percent, compared to current combat vehicles, which are also powered by Cummins engines.

“If the engine is rejecting a lot of heat, you have a thermal signature that makes it easier for the enemy to find the tank; that heat has to be dissipated somewhere on the vehicle, because the heat signature can be seen with infrared or some other technology,” says Eckerle. “It means the tank has to have a very significant cooling system to keep the engine cool.”

The manufacturer is working with California-based Achates Power, a longtime partner that has developed an engine that Cummins’ expertise will help take to the next level and open the door to production. In addition to low heat rejection, the two companies will combine forces to meet demanding power requirements for the engine: the project aims to improve power density by more than 50 percent, compared to current combat engines.

“[The military] is after an engine that could deliver more power in a smaller package size,” says Eckerle. “Even though those tanks look very, very large, the actual space for the engine is confined. The [military] wants an engine that can put out the power needed and still be in a relatively small package size.”

Similar to reducing heat rejection, increasing power density works toward the ultimate goal of making U.S. troops safer.

“One of the reasons the engine compartment is so small is, there’s a lot of protective covering put on these vehicles,” says Eckerle. “If you can compartmentalize the engine to a smaller space, that leaves more space for putting protection on the vehicle to protect the people inside it. And because of the extra power, you can put more armor on the vehicle and still deliver the mission.”

A third requirement for the diesel engine is to reduce fuel use by 13 percent. Cummins says research and development is well underway at its Columbus headquarters and prototype parts will arrive in the coming months. The manufacturer expects to build a handful of prototype engines at its Seymour facility. Ultimately, Cummins plans to demonstrate the engine in the full power train to show it will deliver on the specifications.

“Cummins was chosen for this contract because the government wanted a company that could, potentially, take the concept into production. [Our focus] is taking Achates’ ideas and turning them into a production-viable engine; they’ve demonstrated the technology in a sample configuration,” says Eckerle. “[Cummins] is in the process of laying out how’d we take it into production, if and when that happens, and the costs that go with it.”

While the research contract is among the company’s largest in the defense sector, Eckerle believes the ACE project could open doors for advancing engines in Cummins’ commercial applications, such as marine and industrial segments—delivering Cummins’ might to more than just the military.  

Eckerle says the project will likely benefit areas of Cummins’ portfolio beyond defense.
Eckerle describes the unique nature of the project’s engine.
  • Perspectives

    • Regional Investment Proposal Could be a Game Changer for Quality of Place Initiatives in Indiana

      While quality of place may be defined differently by people, a growing number of Hoosiers recognize the importance of this issue. In particular, the impact of quality of place on talent attraction and retention in a geographic area cannot be ignored. The future of every community is dependent on quality of place. Like many Midwestern states, Indiana is not growing at the same pace as areas in the southern and western regions of the United States.

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • The Vogue opened as a movie house in 1938, then reopened as a nightclub in 1977. (Picture Courtesy: The Vogue)

      Tech Vets Purchase Popular Indy Nightclub

      A group of Indianapolis tech entrepreneurs has bought a popular nightclub in the city's Broad Ripple neighborhood. High Alpha co-founder Eric Tobias and former MOBI executives Scott Kraege and Andrew Davis say they will retain the Vogue's current staff to manage the venue's day-to-day operations. The new owners say they will detail plans to reinvigorate the Vogue through enhanced fan experience and engagement in the coming months. Tobias, Kraege and Davis purchased the Vogue...

    • (Image courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts.)

      Colts Announce 2019 Regular Season Schedule

      The 2019 NFL schedule is out and the Indianapolis Colts will play in several high-profile games. All three of the Colts’ 2019 primetime games will be on the road against defending division champions. 

    • Bryan Brenner is the CEO of FirstPerson and a founding partner of Performance Lab.

      FirstPerson Execs Launch Performance Lab

      A new firm founded by executives from Indianapolis-based FirstPerson says it wants to help companies strengthen performance. Performance Lab uses a field test known as the Performance Climate Survey, which provides insights into a company’s performance culture. Founding Partner Bryan Brenner, who is also the CEO of FirstPerson, says the firm has already landed a number of early customers, including Goodwill Industries, the Indy Chamber and the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

    • Skilled Nursing Facility Proposed for Merrillville

      A new $7 million skilled nursing facility is being proposed in Merrillville. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the development would include five residential buildings outfitted with 12 beds, a dining area, beauty salon and spa. 

    • 2019 'Stellar' Finalists Announced

      Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch has unveiled the finalists for the 2019 Stellar Communities Program. The four regions selected will receive a planning grant and work with the Indiana Communities Institute at Ball State University on project alignment and continued planning efforts. Stellar Communities, launched in 2011, is led by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and aims to boost community and economic development and promote local and regional partnerships.