NRL’s photovoltaic technology to support USMC power requirements

8 May 2012 (Last Updated May 8th, 2012 03:45)

The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Electronic Science and Technology Division researchers are developing technology that will assist the US Marine Corps (USMC) expeditionary to reduce energy requirement while increasing effectiveness.

MSP photovoltaic prototype The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Electronic Science and Technology Division researchers are developing technology that will assist the US Marine Corps (USMC) expeditionary to reduce energy requirement while increasing effectiveness.

NRL Solid State Devices Branch head Robert Walters said: "One of the most significant challenges currently facing the Marine Corps is the need to supply sufficient electricity to individual Marines in forward operating bases.

"Mobile photovoltaics are a technology that can address these needs by leveraging emerging, flexible, high efficiency photovoltaic technology."

A new photovoltaic system, mobile solar power (MSP) has been developed and prototyped by the NRL in partnership with MicroLink Devices, Design Intelligence and the USMC Expeditionary Energy Office (E2O) in a bid to meet USMC Expeditionary Power requirements.

The robust photovoltaic system incorporates recent advances in solar cell technology and serves as high-efficiency solar panels for rechargeable batteries adaptation in the field.

"Mobile photovoltaics are a technology that can address these needs by leveraging emerging, flexible, high efficiency photovoltaic technology."

The MSP features array of single-junction solar cells with a power conditioning circuit that maximises array power production and can charge a standard, military issue, high-capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery (BB-2590).

The MSP photovoltaic prototype can be equipped with 10.5i x 15.5in solar panel to generate more than 11W under 1-sun air mass (AM) of 1.5 illuminations.

As part of USMC Expeditionary Energy Strategy, the Mobile photovoltaics technology aims to increase battlefield operational energy efficiency with on-installation alternative energy production and energy demand reduction, while decreasing vulnerability.

Researchers identified that the only renewable energy source that can meet military's real time requirement to reduce both fuel and battery resupply are photovoltaic (PV) cells.

The technology is expected to reduce 50% of fuel consumed for each marine, every day, and also reduce batteries total weight by nearly 200,000lb.


Image: The MSP photovoltaic prototype equipped with solar panel in a standard USMC issue backpack. Photo: courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory.