The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), along with the Army science and technology community, is pursuing technology for the Army’s Operational Energy Strategy, which is aiming for net-zero energy use.
There are a number of technology areas enabling operational energy, such as energy storage, alternative energy sources, high-density power converters and micro grids that the lab is pursuing.
In the past, ARL electrochemists discovered a way to increase the duration of high-energy batteries with an electrolyte additive. Now, other teams are thinking about high-efficiency, miniature power supplies that could give small, unmanned systems bursts of power on-demand.
The concept of Smart Battlefield Energy on-Demand, or SmartBED would permit soldiers to link up to the power they need. It will ultimately bring complex pieces together – generator, solar systems and energy storage – in a flexible, resilient way into an energy network. The essence of SmartBED is being able to get energy seamlessly when and where it is needed, but yet not wasting it.
Department of Defense operational energy is an emerging area being shaped. It is what is required to train, move, and sustain forces, weapons, and equipment for military operations. It accounted for 75 percent of all energy used by DOD in 2009, according to the DOD.
However, the Army acknowledges energy and power challenges to its operational energy concept and strategy, beyond technological improvement – there are cultural, policy and procedural concerns that leaders are addressing.
In March, the Army said it was testing a new design of energy saving tents that offer energy and resource reductions of 35 to 75 percent over traditional canvas set-ups.