WV Outpost – The United States Army has always been known to be partial to the color green. Now they are becoming even more partial to green technology. The innovation behind green technology has enabled the US Army to practically abolish their need for fuel and the use of generators in the field.
The Army has labeled their newest innovation the “Power Shade” which uses flexible photovoltaics as shown above that can generate up to 2 kilowatts of electricity from solar power. Although the name Power Shade isn’t really that catchy, producing up to 2 kilowatts of electricity from any location without generating any noise or creating a heat signature is rather appealing. Unlike the standard fuel generator that has been used in the field for years.
The US Army is experimenting with several flexible, portable, lightweight solar-powered shades and tent-like technologies. All the products are designed with mobility in mind, since military units must be able to move locations in a moment’s notice. With the mobility of the solar-powered shades the Army is able to charge batteries, computers and other essential gear.
According to Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.
“They are ideal for charging up batteries, making sure your (communications), night vision goggles and computers are powered up. You don’t want a generator on top of a mountain, and you don’t want to have to bring fuel to a generator or haul batteries.”
In addition, Hammack said the Army is hoping to deploy more of the solar-powered tents in the near future. “The technology has reached the point where the testing has shown they [solar-powered tents] are proven. Our teams have worked on the inverters and the durability of the systems. The durability of the tent covers has evolved to a point where we would like to see more of them deployed,” Hammack said.
Several of these have already been deployed to Afghanistan to be used by soldiers out in the field where transporting fuel is not practical or in most cases not safe for the logistics team. Some of the Flexible PV products being evaluated are called: Power Shade, TEMPER Fly and Quadrant – military shelter items of various sizes and configurations which use flexible solar panels to harness light energy and convert it into transferable electricity.
The Temper Fly is around 16’x20’ and can generate around 800 Watts of electricity. The Quadrant is slightly smaller than the Temper Fly and can generate around 200 Watts of electricity. The Power Shade varies in size and can produce up to 3 kilowatts of electricity. All of the military shades use a lamination process to combine the PV materials into the textile substrate, which make it durable and easy to handle.
The US Army is certainly taking the initiative in being independent of fossil fuels as possible, while being inventive at the same time. I know I am looking forward to the day when you can buy one of these Power Shades at the local Army Surplus Store. This would be great for the next family camping trip to the mountains.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army
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