USAF Develops Deployable Energy Systems

The the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Advanced Power Technology Office, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, announced on April 6 that its staff has developed and tested an expeditionary  operating base that is expected to change the way in which forward-deployed forces will power missions in the future.

The new expeditionary microgrid system comprises a number of tents – each with a monocrystalline silicon solar panel attached at the top for energy production – and a trailer at the center, holding the hardware, software, and lithium- ion batteries that form the smart grid and provide energy backup.

As part of the current project, researchers also are evaluating energy reduction technologies, such as shelter insulation; and efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

The on-going project hopes to meet the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s 2035 vision to create a totally deployable, self-sustaining power system.

 “We are looking at something that will be set up and deployed in an hour,” explains said Air Force 1st Lt. Jason Goins, project engineer. “If you can power a shelter in 30 minutes with affordable solar and wind, that’s spectacular.”

 In addition to providing a reliable, steady source of power, the team is exploring solar panels that can be shot by a bullet and still remain operational.

 The team also is working with industry to create a lightweight wind power package. This would employ a ground-based system with a bladed turbine that can be cranked up into the air to generate wind power.

The trailer’s open software system and architecture has played a critical role in enabling cross-service collaboration with the Army. The Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is performing joint testing and development of the mobile energy management system trailer. The results will be used to develop tactical microgrid standards.

 In the coming months and years, the team plans to continue its partnership with the Army and look at ways in which they can collaborate on developing standard policies and equipment for microgrid

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