Sunday, May 08, 2011

Army Operational Energy Challenges

May 2011 issue of the Army Magazine has two important articles. This post is a summary of their important points:

The Army's Operational Energy Challenge By LTG Michael Vane and COL Paul Roege,

 Even as Army pursues alternative energy technologies, fossil fuels will likely remain dominant.

 Power and energy grow ever more important to military capabilities; they enable every system that supports soldier and unit performance, from mobility and weapons systems to surveillance and communications, as well as heating and cooling.

 Over the past century, modern militaries migrated to petroleum-based energy for its ease of handling and worldwide availability. Bow alternatives in order to ensure availability, mitigate price risk and fulfill environmental responsibility must be considered.

 The Army needs to find alternative energy sources, both for installation and operational energy. This is critically essential, not only to mitigate volatility in energy costs, but simply to promote resilience to disruption of our mission. It is important, however, to consider implementation factors such as cost, simplicity and compatibility within the operational context. The idea is that we can transform energy savings into greater combat efficiency by conserving resources to purchase needed capabilities for our soldiers and enhancing force protection.

 Operational energy is the energy and associated systems, information, and processes required to train, move, and sustain forces and systems for military operations. It is an important enabler for operations.

 The Army recently drafted an initial capabilities document that outlines energy-related capability requirements. Common goals that pervade the analysis include: improve operational energy management; improve awareness of energy issues that affect operations; increase power-source density and commonality; decrease the size and weight of systems; increase power generation and distribution efficiency and capacity; decrease energy demand; and foster energy innovation.

 The Army has taken its operational energy deficiencies and grouped these into three “grand challenges”: establish the ability to manage energy/water resources, dramatically reduce energy/water demand, and finally build resilience and flexibility to maintain operational effectiveness under changing situations.

 To tackle these three operational energy challenges, the Army identified a number of enabling strategies. These measures enhance endurance, reduce the need for logistic fuel, provide resilience and may mitigate tactical signature.

 What the Army is doing?

 There is a growing list of Army initiatives directed toward improving operational energy capabilities and performance. For instance, since January 2009, Army acquisition programs have been required to consider the fully burdened cost of fuel in cost calculations. An Army Science Board team is developing recommendations on strengthening the sustainability and resilience of the future force. “smart grid” technology is identified as one of the most promising solutions we could deploy to improve operational performance while reducing energy consumption.

 The Army has undertaken many materiel initiatives directly associated with the three grand challenges. To establish the ability to manage energy/water resources, the Army has developed the following programs.
  • Fuel Manager Defense, an automated fuel accountability and tracking system
  • Hi-Power project, a standardized smart grid capability for tactical command posts and similar multigenerator
  • Rechargeable conformal batteries and soldier power networking devices
The Army is reducing demand. For that purpose it deployed improved temporary structures that incorporate insulation to reduce heating, ventilation and air conditioning energy consumption. It is updating the Army Facilities Components System, which prescribes standard Army camp designs from tent-based (initial), temporary and semi permanent structures. Tactical diesel generators (5-, 10-, 15-, 30- and 60-kilowatt sets) are one of the focus areas.

 To build resilience and flexibility to maintain operational effectiveness under changing situations, the Army is pursuing the following alternative energy solutions.

• Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System, a lightweight, portable power system capable of recharging batteries or acting as a continuous power source. 
• Flexible Photovoltaics in Shelter Integrated and Soldier Portable Applications, power small soldier loads or recharge military batteries in the field via complementary high-efficiency battery chargers.
• Solar Hybrid—a system capable of providing up to 10 kilowatts of power continuously while reducing generator running time by 20 percent. 
• Power Upgrade—an extended solar-power solution to operate a wireless surveillance system for combat outpost force protection.
• Reusing Existing Natural Energy Wind and Solar—a combination solar/wind/energy storage system to provide high levels of power in the field for reducing fuel logistics and soldier load.
• Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center has an ongoing program to evaluate the operation of Army systems on alternative/synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.

 What is the expected net result of these initiatives?

 Efficiencies in operational energy can lead to substantial increases in effectiveness for the warfighter. Energy savings translate not just to less fuel used, but to more boots on the ground available for other tasks, more resources available for the mission and more mobile, resilient forces.

 The Army must “operationalize” energy. We need a fundamentally “lean” approach, which demands an understanding of operational requirements and systems and how energy supports them. The Army must establish capabilities and procedures to manage power and energy utilization as an integral aspect of its operations.

 Moreover, we need to identify those critical performance measures that correspond to operational challenges beyond the historical focus on cost and environmental impacts. Military requirements demand that we consider additional criteria such as power and energy densities, logistics, ease of integration into military applications, safety, security, reliability, availability, flexibility and adaptability.
Shaping Sustainment for Tomorrow, By LTG Mitchell H. Stevenson

 In 2009, $2.7 billion out of a $4.1 billion Army energy budget was consumed in operations.

 Heavy fuel use can create a greater reliance on contractor support. The fully burdened cost of fuel in Iraq can be as high as $30 per gallon, and in Afghanistan it can be even higher.

 The Army has a strategy and specific plans to succeed, from exploring alternatives to petroleum-based fuel, to decreasing the size and weight of systems, to making vehicles and buildings more fuel efficient. A number of advanced technologies have already been deployed, including lightweight, high-energy soldier power sources and off-the shelf products that improve energy efficiency at forward operating sites.

 More progress is under way. For instance, accelerating replacement of tactical quiet generators with advanced medium mobile power source generators, rucksack enhanced portable power system, a lightweight system that employs a 62-watt solar panel to recharge batteries or act as a continuous power source.

 Another promising battery-charging technology is the thermoelectric generator (TEG) power source. This lightweight, modular system will burn small amounts of JP-8 or other fuels to create heat, which is then converted into usable charging usable electricity. TEG is being developed to support battery operations in the most austere operating environments; the goal is to generate more power than most current manportable solutions and significantly lighten the soldier’s load.

 Smart and Green Energy for Base Camps, encompasses the full spectrum of military bases at the tactical, operational and theater levels. The focus is on reducing energy consumption in base camps with readily available technology. The initiative includes using energy-efficient shelters and environmental control units; microgrids and intelligent energy-management capabilities; solar dish concentrators; solar thermal water heaters and cryogenic coolers; shower-water reuse systems.

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