The U.S. Army has awarded a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) valued at $3 million to LiquidPiston to develop a portable diesel-powered compact artillery power system (CAPS) capable of providing 2 kW power. The Army is hoping to advance portable power technology to extend mission duration, reduce fuel consumption, and reduce noise and heat signatures in powering digitized towed howitzers. It is expected that the CAPS will be demonstrated to power the Howitzer M777 Digital Fire Control System. The RIF award process is extremely selective, with only 5% of submitted technical proposals (white papers) selected for the award.
“Military equipment, both tactical and non-tactical, is increasingly electrified and computerized, and there is a significant need for compact, efficient, and high-quality power generation,” said Eugene Conner, of the Army’s Program Manager’s Office for Towed Artillery Systems. “This effort is a potential solution to provide this vital capability at significantly reduced size and weight over presently available capabilities.”
In addition to LiquidPiston, the team involved in developing the lightweight diesel generator (which is being designed to also run on jet propellant) includes HDT Expeditionary Systems (HDT) and General Atomics. The CAPS prototype objectives include a dry weight of less than 30 lb. and noise level of less than 60 dB at 7 m distance from the generator (see photo). This is a 75% reduction in weight compared to current 2-kW generators used for this application, which weigh around 124 lb. The CAPS hybrid electric 2-kW diesel generator will integrate lithium-ion, fault-tolerant (LiFT) battery technology from General Atomics to increase the capacity of the generator.