A revolutionary type of personal power pack now in development could help our troops when they are engaged on the battlefield.
With the aim of being up to fifty per cent lighter than conventional chemical battery packs used by British infantry, the solar and thermoelectric-powered system could make an important contribution to future military operations.
The project is being developed by the University of Glasgow with Loughborough, Strathclyde, Leeds, Reading and Brunel Universities, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It is also supported by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
The system's innovative combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells*, thermoelectric devices** and leading-edge energy storage technology will provide a reliable power supply round-the-clock, just like a normal battery pack. The team is also investigating ways of managing, storing and utilising heat produced by the system.
Because it is much lighter, the system will improve soldiers' mobility. Moreover, by eliminating the need to return to base regularly to recharge batteries, it will increase the potential range and duration of infantry operations. It will also absorb energy across the electromagnetic spectrum, making infantry less liable to detection by night vision equipment that uses infra-red technology, for instance.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The armed forces often need to carry around a huge amount of kit and the means to power it. It's great that specialists from a range of science disciplines are coming together to develop lighter, more reliable technology that will help to make life easier for them in the field."
Although substantial research into solar power for soldiers has already been conducted worldwide, this new UK project differs in its use of thermoelectric devices to complement solar cells, delivering genuine 24/7
|Contact: EPSRC Press Office|
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council