WASHINGTON – It was a day of epic proportions for the
Navy civilian scientists and engineers who are developing a new “EPIC” engine
Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) leadership – NAVSEA
Commander Vice Adm. William Hilarides and NAVSEA Executive Director Bill
Deligne – believe in its potential to transform the Navy surface and undersea
That’s why they presented the 2016 NAVSEA Commander’s
Innovation Award to the team of engineers for their work on the breakthrough
technology at a Washington Navy Yard ceremony held April 26.
Hilarides and his predecessors annually honor NAVSEA
innovators with the Commanders Award for Innovation that challenges assumptions
and requirements while eliminating the bureaucratic processes preventing great
ideas from being implemented.
The team developing the Extreme Power Internal
Combustion (EPIC) engine overcame the assumptions, obstacles and bureaucracy to
turn an idea into a patented engine technology designed to transform vehicle
and equipment operations throughout the U.S. Navy in the not so distant future.
“Our team has the initiative, drive, creativity,
ingenuity, and experience to bring this game-changing, mission transformational
technology to reality,” said Greg Buchanan, the inventor of EPIC. “Combined with the rapid prototyping,
additive manufacturing, and innovation design capabilities of the collaborating
warfare centers, we will bring this engine’s decisive advantage to the
Buchanan and one of the EPIC developers, Vince Vendetti
– both Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) engineers – were
also recognized for the innovation at the NSWCDD annual honor awards ceremony,
“We were shocked and excited to learn of the award,”
said Buchanan, who collaborates on EPIC with his team of engineers and
scientists from NSWC Panama City; NSWC Philadelphia; Office of Naval Research
Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department; and NSWCDD
in Dahlgren Va., which includes Combat Direction Systems Activity, Dam Neck in
“To us, innovation is our way of doing business for the
Navy,” said Buchanan. “If we are to stay ahead of the designs of our enemies,
we can’t worry about what can’t be done and collaborate to figure out ways to
get it done. Our enemies are nimble and
unconventional – we must be also.”
EPIC began when Buchanan pondered a pressing question:
How does the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps outmaneuver future rivals in amphibious
operations and assault missions?
There are points that must be considered before
answering the question.
For starters, modern assault missions are increasingly
complex. An armored vehicle must be effective in combat under increasing enemy
fire power, while maintaining maneuverability and range. Abram tank designers
tried to overcome this challenge via a turbo-shaft engine, however, the
turbine’s fuel consumption limits the effectiveness of that solution.
Secondly, the next generation amphibious assault vehicle
– faced with the need to float and traverse miles of rough seas – must overcome
difficult challenges at sea. The expeditionary fighting vehicle attempted to
meet these challenges using a heavy diesel engine, with limited success.
Buchanan’s solution: Develop a high-power, low-weight,
compact, stealthy, and fuel efficient power plant that enables a transformation
of the amphibious assault mission.
“An amphibious combat vehicle featuring the efficient,
high-power EPIC engine would meet all challenges and outmaneuver future rivals
to truly transform amphibious assault missions,” Vendetti explained in a Naval
Innovative Science and Engineering White Paper.
EPIC enables the outmaneuvering by increasing agility
with acceleration, speed, payload, climb, and muscle, expanding operations with
range, endurance, and logistics to provide a mission transformation for
amphibious combat vehicle amphibious operations.
“The EPIC engine will power heavily armored amphibious
combat vehicles to shore at high speed in minimal time from the increased
standoff distances of U.S. Navy’s amphibious ships,” Vendetti projected. “Once
ashore, the engine drives the amphibious combat vehicle far inland, conserving
fuel by using only the cylinders necessary to optimize combat
effectiveness. The engine’s reduced
weight, size, and fuel requirements afford the amphibious craft increased
maneuverability and payload to battle through the complexities of future
Moreover, the EPIC engine would fill the current power
gap by producing high power and torque in a small, lightweight, and fuel
efficient package. Preliminary calculations indicate the EPIC cycle engine
could produce a power-to-weight ratio exceeding that of conventional diesel
engines by a factor of 10 and turbo-shaft engines by a factor of two.
“The EPIC engine will accomplish its high power density
with low emission temperatures and volume of emissions to improve stealth,”
Buchanan stated. “The engine will provide excellent power variation, along with
cylinder selection and low fuel consumption. With the ability to stack rotors,
its scalable-cylindrical shape, and built-in hybrid electric power or fluid
pumping capability, the EPIC engine can be tailored for a variety of
applications within the amphibious combat vehicle system.”
This early development work is aligned with NSWCDD’s
core thrust to design, develop, test, and evaluate technology for integration
into Navy and expeditionary warfighting platforms. EPIC also aligns with the
command’s electric weapons thrust to provide high electrical power generation
in a greatly reduced form factor to power electric weapons.
“Building on NSWC Dahlgren’s history of successful U.S. Marine
Corps vehicle integration work, Dahlgren could enable the amphibious combat
vehicle program to achieve its challenging power goals, highlight its
development skills, and promote its expertise in additive manufacturing,” said