MCLEAN, Va. -- In a typical 72-hour mission in Afghanistan, a U.S. Soldier carries 70 individual batteries. Army scientists are researching ways to unburden the Warfighter by lightening the load.
Batteries make up 20 percent of the weight a Soldier carries in theater. An infantry battalion spends more than $150,000 on batteries per year, which is second in cost to munitions.
U.S. Army Research Laboratory scientists say they can reduce battery weight by almost 20 pounds for each Soldier through improved technology. These improvements could also reduce costs and be applied for commercial use.
U.S. Army Research Laboratory sponsored Battery Technology Industry Day Feb. 16 to spark commercial interest. Unburdening the Soldier was a key driver for the research and development effort, said Paul Amirtharaj, acting director of ARL's Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.
The event was organized to provide industry an opportunity to review and explore the licensing and commercialization possibilities through cooperative research and development agreements. More than 40 companies that supply batteries or power components to the federal government or commercial marketplace attended.
"The Army needs better battery technology to meet the high-energy demand and address the need for Soldier-wearable power solutions as well as technology that provide auxiliary power for on-board vehicles and supply power to unmanned air and ground vehicles, and unattended sensors," said Ed Schaffer, chief of SEDD's Power and Energy Division, which focuses on battery chemistries and wide band-gap power electronics.
The event showcased the Army's efforts in developing technologies to meet the military's growing need for power and energy solutions. It highlighted 17 ARL-developed technologies identified as strong candidates for commercial application. Higher voltage lithium-ion battery chemistry generated considerable interest.
"Currently, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries - found in cell phones, iPods and laptops have a cell voltage in the range of 3.0 to 4.0 volts. While this represents significantly higher energy density than other battery chemistries, there is more development needed to increase the voltage of these types of batteries," said Karen Laforme, an ARL program integrator who helped organize the event.
ARL researchers Kang Xu and Arthur von Wald Cresce have developed an electrolyte additive that enables lithium-ion batteries to operate at 5 volts.