Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Army Thinks Big re: Vehicular Energy Management

Apr 16 Update: remembered LTG Vane presented  great deck at MORS Power & Energy workshop and just found it.  Called "The Operational Energy Challenge; you can download it here.


This ain't your grandpa's Jeep. A recent article in AviationWeek titled "Watt-Rich Vehicles Will Boost Capability" highlights some clear thinking by an Army energy leader I got to hear speak at a great MORS conference on DOD energy issues late 2009. We're well past more speculation on what might be; LTG Michael Vane and others in uniform and in industry are clearly moving out on tactical energy capabilities. I especially like the objective of using the vehicle's electrical capabilities to lighten the battery burden on the individual soldier as well as reduce the generator-hauling burdens on loggies:
The direction we want to go is twice as much power on a vehicle and half the weight on a soldier, to get us away from having to cart around 6-8 batteries. When it comes to vehicles, there is a critical need to get away from the logistical tail that dragging around extra generators brings to a mission. [Army Capabilities Integration Center] ARCIC wants to build that generating capability into a truck, as opposed to relying on external sources like generators.
Then there's this part re: new tactical energy management systems from BAE. I'd say you have to like the improvements you get with the application of these approaches and technologies:
Critical to the expeditionary nature of combat, as well as the multiple humanitarian and peacekeeping missions the military has been tasked with in recent years, the power-management system also has the ability to produce 30 kw. of export power. This is essential for operations in places like Haiti where, after the recent earthquake, infrastructure was destroyed and millions of people were left without electricity and clean water. By exporting so much power, one vehicle is able to perform tasks such as powering a command center, field hospital or water-purification system—all without having to haul around generators and the fuel needed to run them, which adds time, expense and complexity to the logistics chain.
There's more too. Recommend you read through to the end. Not sure whether present or future energy metrics are playing a role here, or whether it's just good common sense plus innovative engineering getting together to accomplish some big breakthrough things. Either way, this work by the Army (and also the Marines) is one of the best developments of the year so far. Let's watch it. And thanks again, Ollie.


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