FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Move over George and Judy Jetson, Fort Carson is giving the old cartoon concept a run for its money when it comes to futuristic technology.

All cards are on the table as the installation investigates and tests cutting-edge technologies in its path to achieving net zero energy by 2020, including heat and solar power dishes, a waste-to-energy system and rolling out large-scale electric vehicles.

"As a net zero installation, we are asked to not only make significant energy efficiency reductions and implement renewable energy projects but to be a leader and demonstration platform for new and emerging technologies," said Scott Clark, Fort Carson Energy Program coordinator, Directorate of Public Works.

Exploring partnerships and energy funding mechanisms -- such as through the Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program -- is key to Fort Carson gaining access to the new technologies.

Soldiers training downrange stand to benefit from a unique solar dish technology that not only produces electricity, but simultaneously generates heat. One of these sterling silver dishes is currently being installed at the Hazardous Storage Facility, building 9246. Data on how well the solar system performs will be collected for one year.

"The dish converts the sun's energy to electricity and also heats a glycol/water mixture. Most solar technologies either focus on creating electricity or heat, but not both," said Clark. "This technology could potentially be used to support forwarding operating locations as it can provide heat and electricity without a need for fossil fuels."

Building 8030, a large maintenance facility already home to a transpired solar array, will have supplemental heat provided by a 70 kilowatt biomass heating system within the next couple of months.
The biomass system will burn nonchemically treated wood from beetle kill and other forestry activities, said Vince Guthrie, Fort Carson Utility Program manager, DPW. It is the installation's first venture into using biomass for electricity and heating and could lead to larger-scale projects in the future.

Four of the world's largest plug-in battery-electric powered trucks will arrive at Fort Carson for a demonstration period by the end of October for use by the Directorate of Logistics, the transportation motor pool and DPW courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Army's Tank Automotive and Development Command.

The vehicles, which can haul more than eight tons of cargo, include a fully-loaded weapons reset work truck, two stake bed trucks and a refrigerator box truck, said Guthrie. An electric TMP bus is slated for arrival later this year.

According to the specifications of the electric trucks, the vehicles can reach a top speed of 50 mph and travel 100 miles on a single charge.

The lithium-ion battery takes six to eight hours to fully charge and has an estimated 15-year lifecycle.

The objectives of bringing these energy technologies here is to demonstrate how they perform in a real world environment and to collect data to determine if their operation is cost-effective and will ultimately save the Army money in larger-scale applications.

As daunting as getting the installation and its community members to net zero energy seems, Clark and Guthrie are excited about the challenge.

"We've become modern day explorers of our nation's new energy frontier," Guthrie said of their role in making net zero a reality here.

Page last updated Thu October 13th, 2011 at 14:30