ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Army continued to demonstrate technologies to improve energy efficiency at base camps during an integrated exercise at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, from mid-May through June 17.
This exercise at the Base Camp Integration Laboratory, or BCIL, was a part of the Sustainability Logistics Basing -- Science Technology Objective Demonstration, or SLB-STO-D, which has the goal of reducing fuel and water resupply demand and waste generation at small base camps.
The exercise looks to increase self-sufficiency of these camps and reduce the number of fuel truck convoys, which may be targeted while delivering resupplies.
"It takes a team of teams," said Jyuji Hewitt, executive deputy to the commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, referring to the SLB-STO-D effort during a demonstration day, June 15. "It's really all focused on not only our Soldiers, but our joint force."
RDECOM leads the effort, which is managed by the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center manages the fuel reduction effort, with the goal of reducing fuel demand by 25 percent.
"We introduced two new fuel reduction technology demonstrators as well as two returning systems with updated designs based on lessons learned from prior STO Demos and capability upgrades," said Selma Matthews, fuel reduction thrust lead for SLB-STO-D and senior research engineer in CERDEC's Command, Power and Integration Directorate's Power Division.
CERDEC continued to test its Energy Informed Operations tactical microgrid architecture, which aims for increased power availability and reliability, while reducing generator fuel usage and maintenance. The EIO microgrid's open architecture allows power resources to easily plug-in and play into the grid and be managed by the user through a software application that helps ensure energy efficiency.
CERDEC engineers applied lessons learned from previous exercises to improve the user application as well as a connected battery to enable the grid to have better power quality and better response to different power loads, said Michael Gonzalez, CERDEC CP&ID Power Division engineer.
"We've now incorporated better analysis so we have recommendations built-in [to the application]," said Gonzalez. "We also have maintenance so operators, Soldiers, can pull up the application and put 'device is taken down for maintenance.' What we got from previous testing events was a lot of features that we've implemented this year."
The EIO microgrid powered the south side of the camp at the BCIL, which included billets, laundry and quality of life stations. The EIO sustained power for the 10 straight days it was required to, Gonzalez said.
The east side of camp -- which consisted of force provider assets - shelters, laundry and an all-electric kitchen -- was powered by the Towable 100 kilowatt Generator Set, a generator that reduces fuel consumption by varying the engine speed to match the power load.
The Towable 100 KW GenSet supported the STO-D goal of reducing fuel consumption by 25 percent. It had a consistent savings of 20 percent when used at full-power output, and up to 50 percent savings with the lower ends of the power cycle, said Edmund Nawrocki, CERDEC CP&ID Power Division engineer.
The Towable 100 KW GenSet has an increased power density but only half the weight of the existing system. The Army's 100 kW generator set weighs about 5,800 pounds, but this design only weighs approximately 2,600 pounds, Nawrocki said.
"That means you can actually put it on a trailer, and tow it by a HMMWV or a JLTV. You can put that in place, anywhere, within 30 minutes," Matthews said. "You just back it into position like you would park a small boat with a light duty truck."
This year, both the EIO microgrid and the Towable 100 KW GenSet were accompanied by a power planning tool called the Auto Distribution Illumination System, Electrical, or AutoDISE, system.
AutoDISE is an operational energy based computer modeling and simulation tool, which enables users to prepare tailored power and HVAC layouts for the mission loads, equipment and personnel at a particular camp.
Using the AutoDISE library, Soldiers can build a base camp through a pull-down menu that has associated power characteristics for various loads they would find in the camp. The tool will inform them of what to expect before they start powering up the camp, Matthews said.
"We have evolved to the point that it does calculations for the first sergeant or whomever is responsible for setting up a base camp," Matthews said. "They go in, they use this, they use the calculations that are embedded to power the HVAC layouts and the distribution of electric power throughout the camp."
AutoDISE is a Project Manager Expeditionary Energy and Sustainment Systems asset, which CERDEC engineers helped develop. This year a new water and waste water planning tool was added to the system.
"At the BCIL, it was used to plan the integration of new technologies to ensure that they can be implemented, to determine the equipment required for implementation, and to also analyze and see the impact that new technologies would have on base fuel consumption to determine the optimum configuration for reducing fuel," said Christopher Wildmann, CERDEC CP&ID Power Division electrical engineer.
Wildmann said they have received positive Soldier feedback and are continually improving the tool to meet Soldiers' power needs in the field.
"We take power for granted in our daily lives, we just plug whatever we want into whatever receptacle, we don't care if we run out of receptacles or if we overload a circuit," Wildmann said. "So throwing someone into that arena where they do have to think about that is quite overwhelming. AutoDISE helps to plan and lay out the power grid, and see what circuits would overload instead of actually plugging things in until something trips, and then starting over."
The SLBD-STO-D has allowed CERDEC venues for field-based risk reduction and the opportunity to assess scalability of technologies and alternative solutions at reduced cost and risk, Matthews said.
Another benefit was having Soldiers on site to use the technology and provide feedback on its usefulness and ease of use.
"Soldier interaction is when we learn how to make our product or system more intuitive, easy to understand and more focused on the operation or mission need," Gonzalez said.
SLB-STO-D is scheduled to conclude in 2017, and CERDEC will continue to develop the fuel reduction technologies it demonstrated, Matthews said.
"With the transition of some of the fuel reduction technologies from BCIL -- things like intelligent management of sources and loads and the use of hybrid power and energy systems, it is reasonable to assume that we will see even greater reductions in fuel consumption," Matthews said.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.