Friday, April 11, 2014

DOD Energy Tech Advance: NRL's Seawater-to-Fuel Alchemy

Sorry, it's been a while, but this news echoed something a Navy friend in Idaho told me earlier this week and I was compelled to post. It's not about transmutation of lead into gold, it's not water into wine, rather it's something far more important to US and DOD operational energy assurance: a process to turn seawater into fuel for ships and aerial vehicles.

Here's a blurb from DOD's science blog (bet you didn't know DOD had a science blog):
The potential payoff, according to the Navy, is the ability to produce fuel stock at sea or in remote locations. Aside from being convenient – utilizing resources around you for an immediate need is a benefit that speaks for itself – this will reduce the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden. This also increases the Navy’s energy security and independence.
Vice Admiral Phil Cullom, no stranger to the DOD Energy Blog comments on what drives research like this:
We need to reinvent how we create energy, how we value energy and how we consume energy.
Seems to me the NRL researchers are turning Cullom's aspirational words into a near-term reality.  Great stuff. You can read the full post, including videos, HERE.

Image credit: "The Alchemist" by David Teniers the Younger on

Monday, March 24, 2014

Remembering DOD Energy Pioneer Steve Siegel

Scott Sklar shared a sad update with me this weekend on the untimely passing of his friend and DOD Energy colleague, Stephen Siegel:
For the last 15 years I have worked very closely with my friend and colleague Steve Siegel who worked for the Army Analysis Center and then had his own firm, the Energy & Security Group, run with his wife Judy. 
Steve was a colleague for our early education seminar series we held for five years at National Defense University on renewable energy for senior military leaders. And Steve and I developed a renewable energy curricula aide for the DOD service academies and war colleges on how best to integrate the newer energy technologies into the DOE fabric of solutions. 
Steve passed away in his sleep this week. The reasons are not yet known. As one senior OSD official just e-mailed me, “Steve was one of the pioneers in developing methods and tools to quantify the cost of delivering fuel to forward locations and he used his network to help socialize the use of these tools within the Army.” 
As we all know, life is fragile. He was an important thought leader in integrating renewable and distributed energy options to meet the DOD mission. I will sure miss him.
Thank you Scott. This blog has been following and lauding Steve's work since 2009, including a post that said, "Google for 'Steve Siegel' and FBCF (fully burdened cost of fuel) and you get a FBCF goldmine."

And thank you Steve, for all you did to advance our thinking over the years on these critical energy and security topics. ab

Friday, March 21, 2014

SPIDERS Secure Microgrid Industry Show & Tell Coming Up

Army energy wizard and acting branch chief Harold Sanborn, who's had his hands on SPIDERS since day one, will be there. So will my fellow Zoomie Stuart McCafferty, CEO of GridIntellect, who's been sharing his vast microgrid expertise recently on I'd also expect engineers from Burns McDonnell, who've been integral to SPIDERS success, to be in attendance.

Here are the basics for you:

It's called, somewhat verbosely: "The Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) Industry Day"

22 April 2014, 0800-1330


Fort Carson McMahon Theater
1517 McDonald Ave
Fort Carson, CO (south side of Colorado Springs)

Official Description:

Hosted by the U.S. Northern Command, JCTD Industry Day will focus on sharing the lessons learned and results of the Phase 2 Operational Demonstration performed at Fort Carson with the public sector and partner agencies.

This event is open to all stakeholders with an interest in the development of secure microgrids, ranging from policy and regulatory bodies and equipment vendors to those tasked with the development of standards and specifications and utilities that will be interconnecting with these microgrids.

  • SPIDERS Technical Report
  • V2G solutions and technical and acquisition evolution from Phase 1
  • Microgid Cyber Security: Critical Elements, Requirements and Controls
  • Transitioning SPIDERS JCTD to Industry and Military
  • Cyber Experimentation Report
  • Phase 3 & Future Plans Post-SPIDERS JCTD
  • Tours of Ft. Carson Microgrid while under Red Team Cyber Attack
Link for More Info and to Register

Hope you can make it. ab


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Operational Base Energy Smarts Finally Emerging - Bigtime

I few weeks ago I posted on "Hybrid Hopes for Greatly Reducing Operational Base Fuel Requirements"

Since then, two more things have come my way.  One was a note from DOD Energy friend and guru Scott Sklar of the DC-based Stella Group, who wrote thusly: 
I asked energy integrator MILSPRAY to bring the unit (mentioned in the post above) to Arlington two weeks ago for the military folks from the different services to 'kick the tires'.  This unit powered the corrosion facility (MCRF) in Quantico, VA from July - October (14 weeks) last year and the fuel savings versus a standard generator was 78.6% (wow), and the the same set-up at 29 Palms, CA. I am beginning to see better-engineered systems that can stand-alone or interact with on-site diesel generators seamlessly.
This is heavy duty news coming from Scott.

Also just received the DOE's Smart and Green Energy (SAGE) for Basecamps final report and it aligns quite nicely with the observations from the previous post. You can read the full document HERE, but just below you'll find the most important bits in summary form.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hybrid Hopes for Greatly Reducing Operational Base Fuel Requirements

Sounds like a microgrid disguised as a generator.  See what you think:
Today, the U.S. military powers its operating bases with diesel generators that run continuously. The problem is that it’s difficult to match the generating capacity with the actual power load from air conditioners, electronics, and other gear, which fluctuates during the day and in different seasons. And when the demand for power is lower than the generator’s full capacity, the fuel efficiency drops off dramatically and the maintenance increases.
Earl Energy’s FlexGen “hybrid generator” is wired to a diesel generator running at full capacity, which is how it's most efficient. When there is excess power, the diesel generator charges the batteries. If the batteries have enough stored energy to meet the demand for electricity, then the generator shuts off. In tests in Afghanistan, the Earl Energy system allowed the generators to run three to six hours a day, compared with around the clock before it was installed, says Doug Moorehead, the CEO of Earl Energy.
Often in stories like these there's a rub.  But if those real-world results from Afghanistan were achieved without any many compromises, then this is clearly a big win in an area we've made almost no progress for decades.  Will be keeping an eye on Moorehead and Earl Energy for sure.

Full IEEE Spectrum article: HERE.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Announcing a Blogging Slowdown as a New Energy and Security Business is Born

Dear Reader,

You may have noticed the number of posts has tapered off lately on the DOD Energy Blog. I've got to tell you that it's not from lack of interest or diminished activity in our space ... far from it.

Rather, since I departed IBM last September I've been working overtime putting my consulting business together. I've now reached the point where my focus is set, my offerings are defined, and my first partners and customers have emerged.

That means the taxiing period is over and it's time to push the throttle all the way forward and lift off ... hence, less blogging here, at least for a while.

The new business is called Bochman Advisors, and as you'll see when you visit the NEW SITE I just built, it immediately identifies its focus as "Strategic security consulting for the energy sector".  So far, this is working out as helping security companies get smarter on energy matters, and energy companies do better with security.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Make a Microgrid

I've been reading about, sometimes writing about, and occasionally extolling the many virtues of microgrids for some time now.  I even remember when, shortly after starting this blog, I was at a DOD energy gathering at NDU in 2008 or 2009 I think.

This perky bald guy in the row behind me said, kind of like in the movie The Graduate: "the future is microgrids." I could be wrong, but I believe that hairless wonder was Army O-6 and future DOD Energy Blogger Dan Nolan himself.  (I'll get my fact checker on that just in case.)

Since then we've copiously covered the SPIDERS program, as well as the great secure microgrid work at Naval District Washington.

Flash forward to yesterday when I came across Stuart McCafferty's "Top 6 Things to Consider When Developing Microgrids." The title says 6 but altogether it's more like 50 or 60 questions - born of his hands-on project management experience - you need to answer before moving forward.

Out of all of them the first two resonate the strongest with me:
Mission: What is the organization’s mission? How will a Microgrid help support the mission?
If your reasons for building a microgrid aren't directly related to supporting the mission, then what the heck are you doing?  Everyone's free to build their own microgrid after work on their own dime, but if you're building one at a DOD installation, then the connection to mission support has got to be a solid and not a dotted line.

After that the rest of the questions are about everything you need to think about beforehand to do it right.  For the full article click HERE.

And by the way, here's a piece on an early stage USMC microgrid project at Miramar Air Station in San Diego, where energy assurance is the major mission driver.

Image courtesy of National Defense Magazine