You are here

Ultra-High Reliable and Efficient Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) Modular Generator System


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Renewable Energy Generation and Storage; Sustainment


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a megawatt (MW) scale, ultra-high reliable and efficient Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) modular generator concept configured with smaller KiloWatt (kW) scale building block power units in a high-density package to achieve a 4,000 hour no touch maintenance periodicity for continuous operation in a naval environment.


DESCRIPTION: Unmanned surface platforms are expected to become an indispensable part of Naval operations, yet current power system technology does not satisfy future long-duration USV mission needs. Current power generation system technology for USVs supports missions on the order of days to weeks, but many future missions will be measured in months.


One of the most critical enabling capabilities for USVs is reliability of the Hull, Mechanical, and Electrical (HM&E) systems. A significant part of HM&E systems is power generation, which is presently leveraged from manned platforms. These power generation systems, primarily diesels, are not specifically designed for high reliability and maintainability without human intervention.


Modular generators are functionally equivalent to single engine based shipboard diesel or gas turbine generators. The modular configuration enables a common flexible design approach to meet USV cross platform needs, both large and small, to be scalable to total power needs; enables graceful degradation of the system rather than a complete system shutdown in the event of a component failure; and can also be configured as needed to adapt to available platform space.


Innovation is sought to configure and optimize smaller kW scale power units to achieve the following:

• Modular Generator Total Power Output: 1 MW or greater

• Fuel: NATO F76

• Building Block Power Unit Scale and Type: 10’s-100’s kW High Density Diesels, Stirling Generators, Fuel Cells, Gas Turbine Generators. Note that innovation will be sought on how to configure installation of multiple power units to allow for easy access for maintenance, quick removal and replacement as well as optimize operating life via controls.

• Maintenance Interval: 2000 hrs

• MTBF: 4000 hrs

• Modular Generator Electrical Output: 800-1000VDC

• Operate in a marine environment conditions such as salt air ingestion, ships motion in high sea states, shock, vibration, etc.

• Modular generator volumetric and gravimetric density will be equal to or greater than equivalent power level marine diesel generator sets. Note that innovation will be sought on how to configure installation of multiple power units to maximize density as much as possible.

• Modular single point connections for power, fuel, cooling, exhaust, and controls. Note that innovation will be sought on how to best optimize design to combine multiple power unit connections to a single ship interface.


PHASE I: Develop a Modular Generator conceptual design accounting for innovations and requirements stated in the Description with a defined building block power unit.


PHASE II: Develop a Modular Generator package. Demonstrate innovations identified in the Description. Further demonstrate high risk marine environment conditions as required.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Build a minimum 500kW Modular Generator package installed in a 10’ ISO container for subsequent at sea demonstration. Perform land based testing to prove operational capability and demonstrate innovations identified in the Description. Dual use application includes commercial marine and land-based generators.



  1. Congressional Research Service. “Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress Updated August 25, 2023.”
  2. “Naval Research and Development Framework.”


KEYWORDS: Modular Generator; High Density Diesel; Stirling; Fuel Cell; Gas Turbine Generator; USV

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government