Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Army Modernization Features Energy

The January 2011 edition of Soldiers Magazine was themed “Modernizing the Force”. The magazine described the Army’s concept for keeping pace with everything from munitions to uniforms in an era of shrinking budgets and an over stretched force. The technologies ranged from GPS guided artillery munitions to bringing back the Light Assault Weapon (LAW). In addition to the suite of unmanned vehicles and robotic surrogates, Army efforts in energy are highlighted in the final articles.

R&D for Soldier power in the form of conformable, rechargeable batteries and propane fuel cells are discussed. Conformable, prismatic lithium ion batteries are commercially available. The real challenges are the propitiatory connectors required for different power using devices. Fuel cells running on JP8 are also under development at TARDEC; this will tamp down the arguments from DLA-E about single fuel on the battlefield.

Another piece discusses how Charlie Troop, 5-73rd CAV ”discovered 25 solar-powered water filtration machines locked up in an old hangar at Forward Operating Base Hammer, east of Baghdad”. The troop repaired and deployed the systems and began providing 30K gallons of water a day on sun power. The unit that replaced the troop took up the mission. A local village leader said. “Saddam couldn’t get us water. Bin Laden couldn’t get us water. Muqtada Al-Sadr couldn’t get us water. Now, the American Soldiers have finally brought us water.”. A great news story, but one wonders what the Army is doing to follow up on that success. The article does not say who produced the systems, who procured them or whether more are being deployed.

A couple of CONUS energy efforts were also featured. A series of small renewable energy projects from solar walls at Fort Drum to “the Army’s largest solar power site” , a 2 MW array at Fort Carson, described in this January 2008 article. No word on the much touted 500 MW arrays planned for Fort Irwin, CA.

A cooperative geothermal exploration program pairs the Navy with the Army to explore the potential for 30 MW of power production at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada. The program, begun in December 2009 with an MOA between the departments, is based upon the Navy’s success with their 20 year old, 250 MW plant at China Lake. Their project sells the power to the local utility with the Navy receiving payments from the plant operator. Standing by for news on what the study produces.

This particular article finishes with Doug Waters, manager, Renewable Energy and Net-Zero Energy Installations Program, Facilities Policy Division, ACSIM stating that the Army will bring on 1,500 MW of renewable energy power by 2017. Mr. Waters was the senior Army official quoted in the series of articles. 300 MW a year for the next five years; now that is a bold, audacious goal. We look forward to seeing that plan.

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