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03 Nov 08. The U.S. Army will talk to contractors about energy and electricity – how to generate it more cheaply, how to use less of it, how to get more of it where needed – at its industry day Nov. 17 in Leesburg, Va. The service’s new energy plan, unveiled in early October, calls for adding thousands of battery-powered cars to Army posts, converting waste into fuel, managing energy on bases, and getting private funding to build solar and geothermal plants. “As far as acquisition goes, we are working to ensure that the cost of fuel is considered with the acquisition of any platform. We want to reduce the number of vehicles required for fuel and reduce all of the logistics needed for fuel,” said Paul Bollinger, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and partnerships, at the Association of the United States Army annual convention in Washington the week of Oct. 6. “There is no sense in being expeditionary if you are tied to a fuel depot.” Another main thrust is putting bigger generators into Army vehicles, allowing them to carry more C4ISR systems and to bring electricity to the war zone for command posts, tent cities and other uses. Such generators might even power the vehicles’ drive trains via a hybrid-electric propulsion system. “The electronics content of military vehicles is skyrocketing with the IED-jammers and so forth. Power needs can no longer be handled by simply a bigger alternator,” a DRS Technologies spokesman said. DRS, which has been working on an onboard vehicle power contract with the Office of Naval Research for several years, is planning a series of tests in coming months to assess new applications for onboard generators. The firm is also working on a hybrid-electric drive system. A diesel engine under the hood powers a 30-watt generator, which provides extra onboard and exportable power – and could be used to power electric motors to drive the wheels. The “transmission-embedded” generator is designed to drop into a Humvee’s drive train with little effort, perhaps when vehicles are refitted for duty after service in Iraq. “It mounts in the transmission in the same space where the torque converter is currently located. You can literally just drop the transmission out and put a new one in,” said Ken Winters, DRS’ vice president of business development and advanced concepts for power and energy, Huntsville, Ala. “Next year, we will work with the Army and Marine Corps to make it more universal for all the Humvee-size vehicles and we will start looking at putting it into larger vehicles.”
The generator weighs 80 pounds, the power converter 100 pounds, and the entire
system comes in at less than 200 pounds total, Winters said. The system is designed to allow a vehicle to be converted to hybrid-electric propulsion with the installation of batteries and electric motors. “All it is is exportable power, but we are using the same equipment that we would use for a hybrid. If you want energy storage, you just put it in,” said Winters. DRS also is working on upgrading the cooling systems so that the generator does not overheat passengers and crew. “We are trying to work with a coolant that comes from the engine itself. It eliminates an extra cooling system that would have to be added. If you want to go to more current, you would have to add another cooling system,” Winters said. “Any time you talk about power systems on the vehicles, you have to make sure the soldiers are safe in all conditions because they are driving a big generator. We can’t even start tests until we get a safety certification.” DRS is far from the only vehicle maker working on generators. Oshkosh Defense has built an onboard generator for its 10-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement Truck and 14-ton Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.BAE Systems is outfitting a Stryker vehicle with a 600-volt DC generator called the Common Modular Power System, whi

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