FORT PICKETT, Va. (Oct. 5, 2020) — Army Futures Command (AFC) engineers are addressing Soldiers’ energy consumption needs on the battlefield by using emerging capabilities to link resilient power technologies.
The team of researchers evaluated a hybrid power micogrid with Soldiers during the Maneuver Support, Sustainment, and Protection Integration Experiments (MSSPIX) 2020 at Fort Pickett, Virginia, in September. The hybrid microgrid combines an energy storage system working with diesel generators to produce greater efficiencies.
“MSSPIX enabled us to train nine Soldiers on a proof-of-concept power system that resulted from years of engineering work. We’re able to gain their feedback on effectiveness and usability for further development,” said Frank W. Bohn, an electronics engineer with the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center — a component of AFC’s Combat Capabilities Development Command.
The Tactical Microgrid Standard (TMS) lays the foundation for the Center’s research by establishing a common language for power units — such as generators and batteries — to communicate with each other. TMS enables interoperability among different vendors’ equipment, and the standard allows for automation of many Soldier tasks for increased simplicity.
“One goal of the microgrid is to enable Soldiers to cut down on time spent maintaining and monitoring power sources so they can focus more on the mission,” Bohn said. “These enhancements will cut complexity for Soldiers. Also, we anticipate the results of the experiment will show a reduction in fuel consumption and generator run time, which should lead to less required maintenance and fewer spare parts.”
Sgt. Justin Kinnaman, a tactical power generation specialist with 59th Ordnance Brigade of Fort Lee, trained on the system as part of a three-Soldier team.
“Power and fuel always are a factor in the mission. The system allows the user to use less fuel and maintain power output,” Kinnaman said. “With this microgrid, it would be very easy for one experienced Soldier to set up.”
The C5ISR Center introduced several key power components at the event to test objectives for greater microgrid efficiency and autonomy.
For energy storage, units can tow a Hybrid Power System with a Humvee to quickly connect and disconnect from stand-alone generators; the system then stores excess energy for future use. The Microgrid Controller regulates how power moves through the grid by automatically adjusting for capacity to turn generators on and off. A User Energy Dashboard provides increased situational awareness for Soldiers by displaying real-time data pulled from the grid. Finally, the microgrid allows units to opt for silent operations by turning off all generators to run on battery power for up to 30 minutes.
C5ISR Center electronics engineer Joseph Vitale said the data captured here and during lab testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, will help the Army and industry continue hybrid microgrid development. The C5ISR Center is working with its transition partners to mature the systems to get this capability fielded to units soon.
“The Army is requiring capabilities that meet its needs for greater mobility and adaptability for the future fight. We need to increase mission duration without further time burdens on Soldiers,” Vitale said. “Our research aims to address the challenge of making power adapt at the speed of the mission.”
For more information, contact the C5ISR Center Public Affairs Office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.