Sun harvested for warrior wattage
December 6, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- It takes a lot of energy and fuel to wage war, as computers and other equipment need electricity.
In the remote areas in which Soldiers often find themselves, the generators that produce that electricity need fuel.
But the Army is finding that energy can be harvested in many different ways.
In an effort to move to greener energy sources, as well as to save lives and money, the Army is looking at solar energy as a constant, renewable resource under the hot sun of Afghanistan and other deployable areas.
"The Department of the Army has tasked Program Executive Office Soldier to bring in new and innovative products for the consumption of operational energy," said Maj. Aleyzer Mora, assistant product manager with PEO Soldier. "This will help reduce the amount of logistics used to provide fuel."
"Soldier Power" products were tested by Soldiers from the 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. The tests were intended to develop expeditionary power solutions for the most austere operating environments. These lightweight solutions include power scavenging, power distribution, power management, conformal batteries, renewable energy and expeditionary chargers that are Soldier-portable and, if need be, wearable.
The products are also key enablers for dismounted combat operations, said Mora.
Providing energy alternatives to the most disadvantaged warfighter will allow a small unit to sustain itself throughout extended missions while reducing battery load and reliance on logistical convoys.
"Instead of having large convoys providing large amounts of fuel for the Soldiers to use on the battlefield, the individual Soldier can assist by utilizing these products and eliminating the amount of time we put Soldiers out on the roads in harm's way," Mora said.
Solar power is not the only energy that Soldier Power is allowing Soldiers to use. It also provides them the means to harvest energy from many different sources.
"If a Soldier came across a battery on the battlefield or a generator in a village, they could attach these leads and withdraw power from that generator to recharge their radio systems," said Maj. Jack Moore, assistance product manager for Soldier Power. "If they were to come across a coalition vehicle, they could draw power from that vehicle to recharge their batteries. All these systems would allow our Soldiers to be logistic agnostic and recharge their batteries on the go."
Sgt. James Slye, 524th CSSB, was particularly interested in the weight of the entire kit he tested, which measures in at only nine pounds.
"It charges anything and everything I, or any other Soldier, needs in today's world," said Slye. "I don't feel any additional weight, because it is attached to the Improved Outer Tactical Vest. I feel as if it were part of my body. I can maneuver easily."
Hopefully, this technology will expand the Army's expeditionary capabilities and keep Soldiers out of harm's way. By carrying fewer batteries, Soldiers will be able to carry more food, water and ammunition.
"The mission and product directive of Soldier Power has been and will continue to be innovative solutions for expeditionary power that will allow the warfighter to get in front of this emerging requirement for increased power appetite, and allow them to sustain themselves for both short- and long-term duration on the battlefield," said Mr. Steve Mapes, product director of Soldier Power.