Military interest in energy storage remains strong


The US Army is interested in using energy storage to improve tactical capabilities on the battlefield. Pic: Trish Harris.

By Jason Deign

Military enthusiasm for energy storage applications is at an all-time high, according to one supplier close to the industry.

“There’s no doubt that their interest is strong,” said Ryan O’Keefe, senior vice president of business development at the power conversion systems maker Ideal Power.

Energy storage is seen as one of a number of technologies that can help military chiefs offset costs and risks while allowing troops to operate more independently in the battlefield, he said.

“They identified quite some time ago that their military bases, wherever they are, are at the mercy of the electric grid. The military is clearly in planning mode for how to make their operations resilient.”

Ideal Power is currently working with “a couple” of military suppliers on how to improve frontline logistics and power quality.
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How the Pentagon is arming energy storage

The US military renewable energy commitments makes the Pentagon hugely important to the energy storage industry. Photo credit: Phantom Eye drone, Boeing

US military energy storage budgets are huge, as are the Pentagon’s renewable energy commitments. Photo credit: liquid-hydrogen powered Phantom Eye drone, Boeing

The US military outspends all other armed forces on the planet, combined. Some of its budget is hidden from the public in the form of ‘black projects’ and the profits certain contractors reap from involvement in unnecessary and irrelevant weapons systems projects are surely a cause for concern.

But if you were expecting an article bashing the US military, look elsewhere. Because the Pentagon is indisputably A Force For Good in the world of energy storage, through its massive commitment to renewable energy. The US military is going tree-hugger, big time, and there are three main reasons for this green-and-khaki soldiering.
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Encouraging signs for fuel cells

The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) and GM are jointly testing fuel cells. Photo credit: General Motors

The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) and GM are jointly testing fuel cells. Photo credit: General Motors

Last week we took a look at fuel-cell vehicles and concluded that, although they represent an exciting future prospect, they are unlikely to make a big impact any time soon. When we turn to non-vehicle fuel cell energy storage, the signs are much more promising, as we’ll see in this concluding part of our analysis.
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Renewz solar carport wows US Navy

Renewz Sustainable Solutions has installed an Isola solar-powered carport at the Battery Innovation Center in Newberry, Indiana, adjacent to the US Navy’s largest battery testing and research base. The solar charging carport system was developed by Renewz and combines American-made electrical equipment from Eaton with solar panel technology from the Italian PV maker Silfab.

“The completion and deployment took just a matter of days for this first solar power canopy on our new facility grounds,” said Charles LaSota, president of the Battery Innovation Center, in a statement.

“Renewz’ design proved to be fastest and least disruptive to our operations of any others we found on the market, something we believe will be of great importance to our armed force bases in their pursuit of energy independence around the world.”

Military base hosts innovation centre in US

Battery Innovation Center, Crane, Indiana

Battery Innovation Center facility during construction in Crane, Indiana. Photo credit: BIC

Late last week local military and civilian dignitaries flocked to Crane, Indiana, to inaugurate the latest in a series of energy storage innovation hubs which are mushrooming all over the United States. Situated at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the facility will concentrate on advanced battery development and testing.
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Non-nuclear subs run on fuel cells

ThyssenKrupp has launched what has been described as one of the most modern submarines in the world… and it runs partially on a Siemens Proton-Exchange-Membrane-Technology fuel cell system, reports Fuel Cell Today. The U36 is the second boat of the second batch of HDW Class 212A submarines destined for operation in the German Navy.

This class of sub has produced a new record for non-nuclear submarines with 18 days in submerged transit without snorkeling.

Energy storage prêt-à-porter

It seems the number one investor in US energy storage is not Bill Gates or Vinod Khosla but the Pentagon. Everything from solar-powered tents to electric vehicles and night-sights seem to be packed with the latest energy storage tech. And it appears the US is not the only country that it is putting its military might behind rechargeable batteries.

Canadian company Panacis will receive around USD$613,500 to accelerate the commercialisation of the Soldier Sharepack, a wearable energy storage system, from the Canadian government, with a further $1.2 million injection of venture capital. The system is both a lithium-ion battery and an energy management device.

It uses flexible energy sharing, harvesting and scavenging techniques to allow energy from a user’s movement, plus renewable sources such as solar, to supplement the battery charge and thus provide reliable power.

Navitas Systems Becomes a JCSER Affiliate

Navitas Systems, a leading provider of energy-enabled system solutions and energy storage products for commercial, industrial and government agency customers, has announced its Advanced Solutions Group (ASG) has become affiliated with the US Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR).

The Navitas ASG includes the former A123 Systems Advanced Research and Development team, A123 Government Solutions group, and selected engineers from the A123 Automotive Engineering Team.

Navitas announced in January that it had finalised its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of A123 Systems’ former Ann Arbor, Michigan-based government business, including US military contracts.

This acquisition enabled Navitas to keep all the scientists and engineers necessary to develop and commercialise nanophosphate lithium-ion battery chemistry and other advanced battery technologies being developed for military and government applications.

“We’re delighted to be associated with our neighbour JCESR,” said Alan ElShafei, Navitas Systems chairman and founder.

“Using the brainpower of our combined scientific and engineering teams, Navitas and JCESR will have the opportunity to collaborate to push the envelope on energy storage technology R&D.

“We’re absolutely committed to helping build the next generation of advanced battery technologies here in the US.”