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01 Nov 19. Player two has entered the game: US Navy files fusion reactor patent. With growing concerns about both reliable access to energy supplies and the ever looming presence of climate change, the US Navy has risen to the challenge, officially lodging a patent for a next-generation fusion reactor, which if successful would further reshape the balance of global power and re-establish the US as the pre-eminent global energy powerhouse. As many nations and governments around the world race to secure their domestic energy supplies while limiting the harmful effects on the global environment, the US under the rambunctious President Donald Trump has been quietly seeking a way to “unleash American Energy Dominance”.
While the US, like much of the developed world, has long been dependent on foreign, largely Middle East oil, public support and groundswell for alternative energy sources, namely renewables like solar, wind and hydroelectricity, have garnered much support despite the difficulty faced in providing complete grid coverage – presenting a unique national security conundrum for political, economic, scientific and strategic leaders.
Nuclear energy has long served as a powerful, albeit contentious alternative to meet the voracious energy demands of the global economy, with frequent critics citing the Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima incidents as largely emotionally-driven counter arguments against the wide spread implementation of traditional, fission-based nuclear power production.
Each of these different energy sources play an important role in any nation’s energy equation. However, not to be outdone, the US seems to have made progress in what has colloquially be known as “the energy source of the future” since the birth of the Atomic Age – fusion energy.
Lodged on behalf of the US Secretary of the Navy, the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division filed a patent on a design by US Navy researcher Salvatore Cezar Pais for what it defines as a ‘compact fusion reactor’ or CFR, which could be used to successfully, reliably and efficiently generate virtually limitless amounts of clean energy.
Game, set, match – energy security equals national security
While it is often joked about, fusion energy has proven elusive for many researchers and organisations, with companies like Lockheed Martin recently filing patents for their own versions of a fusion reactor, Pais’ concept allegedly addresses the shortfalls of the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks CFR originally lodged in mid-2018.
Fusion, or thermonuclear fusion, involves the forcing together of light nuclei in order to form a heavier nucleus, which due to the mass defect occurs with the generation of energy – this is perfectly incapsulated in Albert Einstein’s famous E=mc2 equation. Fusion occurs at extremely high temperatures, exceeding the core temperature of the sun, which is approximately 15 million degrees.
The complex containment and heat requirements, combined with limitations on computational processing, have all served as traditional hindrances to the successful implementation of fusion energy, something which Pais’ patent hopes to overcome through a net energy gain (more energy is emitted than enters the system).
Should it be successful, Pais’ concept could produce upwards of one gigawatt (one billion watts) to one terawatt (one trillion watts) of power from a single megawatt (one million watts) of energy input – in order to understand the scale and orders of magnitude, a single, large nuclear power plant produces approximately a gigawatt of power, or enough to supply roughly 700,000 homes.
The US Navy is no stranger to the use of fission-based nuclear power for its largest and most strategically significant warships, namely its fleet of Nimitz and Ford Class supercarriers and its fleet of Los Angeles, Seawolf, Virginia and Columbia Class submarines, respectively – if it works, Pais’ CFR would effectively replace the reactors currently used in the nuclear fleet, most of which operate under the 100 megawatt range.
Further supporting the broad appeal of such a system is the compact nature of the reactor, expected to measure 0.3 to two metres in diameter, or the size of a small car, which would enable the system to be installed on vehicles ranging from ships to fighter and strategic airlift aircraft through to main battle tanks or used to effectively power remote facilities or population centres – effortlessly.
Fission, fusion and limiting Australia’s energy dependence
While the widespread roll-out of the fusion reactor is still some time away, the increasing reliability and modularity of advanced fission reactors, particularly Generation III and IV reactors, present an interesting and attractive opportunity to respond to the nation’s energy security situation.
Australia’s dependence on foreign energy, both oil and increasingly natural gas as a result of Australia’s focus on exporting vast quantities of its domestically produced natural gas – the increasingly precarious energy security situation of the nation has become a focal point for policy makers, with nuclear energy emerging as a potential answer despite the inherently emotional responses the suggestion has elicited in the past.
Despite the overwhelmingly emotional response to nuclear energy in Australia, the nation’s position as one of the largest fissile material exporters in the world, combined with world-leading standards, environmental protection legislation and voracious demand for reliable, ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ energy, positions Australian policy makers at a cross roads where logic and reason need to trump emotion.
The advent of SMR technology and the similar vSMR platforms was a key focus of the terms of reference outlined by Energy Minister Angus Taylor – with the ABC recently reporting the growing focus of SMR developers, stating their key objective as “aiming to lower the typical construction costs associated with nuclear plants through serial fabrication at an off-site facility, with components brought together at the operational site for final assembly”.
SMR technology is one such example of modernisation and technological breakthroughs in the nuclear industry, with the US Army ‘Mobile Nuclear Power Plants for Ground Operations’ study highlighting the growing importance of energy on the modern battlefield, saying, “Energy is a cross-cutting enabler of military power and nuclear fuel provides the densest form of energy able to generate the electrical power necessary at forward and remote locations without the need for continuous fuel resupply.”
Enter the development of vSMRs, designed to deliver between one and 10 megawatts (MW) for years without refuelling in a rapidly-deployable (road and/or air) package. Both the US Department of Defense and NASA have collaborated on the development of such reactors for use in military and space exploration contingencies.
Additionally, the US Army study identified a series of performance and design considerations for the development and operation of such a system, including:
- Sized for transport by different strategic, operational and tactical military platforms (C-17 aircraft, ships, Army watercraft and military truck);
- Designed to enable multiple movements in austere locations, throughout its operating life (e.g. passively or actively vibration-resistant during transport);
- Once installed, provides stationary ‘load-following’ and conditioned electric power as well as possibly process heat. Capable of meeting a camp’s variable electrical base power load demand;
- Provides electrical power for mission systems (e.g. sensing, computing and communications), life support (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting etc) quality-of-life functions, and other future applications (e.g. electric weapons, manufacturing, water or fuel production) during contingency operations in remote locations;
- Must have characteristics enabling minimum downtime for periodic instrumentation and sensor replacement or refurbishing, without requiring direct exposure to the nuclear fuel system;
- Must be simple in design and operation. Reactor design and fuel must be inherently safe and accident-forgiving; and
- Factory fuelled with system operating life of 10-20 years without refuelling.
The HOLOS reactor in particular has been designed to support deployed military requirements, with full-power tested successfully in 2018. The HOLOS reactor uses a form of low-enriched uranium known as ‘high-assay low-enriched uranium’ or HALEU, which is neither weapons-grade nor useful in dirty bombs, and satisfies all nuclear non-proliferation requirements.
A clean energy future and reinvigorated, green Australian heavy industries
Professor Emma Aisbett and Professor Mark Howden of the Australian National University (ANU) echoed the growing focus of the economic, political and strategic policy communities, with the Asia-Pacific region recognised as playing a pivotal role in Australia’s transition towards a clean energy economy and position as an energy superpower, as well as the global community’s response to climate change.
With the Indo/Asia-Pacific region expected to be responsible for 65 per cent of projected energy growth in the coming decades, Australia has a unique opportunity to capitalise on its proximity to the emerging markets of the region, build on the vast investment in human capital that establishes the nation as a high-wage, educated labour force, and the ease of investment.
“Australia is very well positioned to become a renewable energy superpower, or power house, if you wish to be less controversial,” Professor Aisbett explained to an audience of existing and future ADF leaders at ADFA.
She articulated that the nation’s transition towards renewable energy also provides opportunities for the nation’s traditional ‘brown’ industries, like steel manufacturing, with the abundance of both wind and solar energy in north-western Australia, combined with the proximity to vast deposits of iron ore and iron concentrates in the area providing a chance for the nation to re-establish its comparative advantage in the market.
“It just so happens that in the north-west of Australia, where that fantastic solar resource is, there is also some of Australia’s best wind resources and the world’s largest iron ore deposits, so the co-location could have real benefits here and provide Australia with the opportunity to regain its comparative advantage and produce green steel,” Professor Aisbett explained.
As part of the ANU’s Grand Challenge, five interlocking projects have been identified to support the nation’s transition towards a renewable energy future, supporting a reinvigorated national industrial base with a range of flow on effects for Australia’s traditional strengths and emerging sectors. These include:
- Renewable-energy systems;
- Hydrogen fuels;
- Renewable refining of metal ores;
- Indigenous community engagement; and
- Energy policy and governance.
Professor Aisbett added, “For example, if we can turn Australia’s iron ore into ‘green steel’ in Australia, there are huge economic benefits for the nation, as well as huge environmental benefits as a result of avoided emissions overseas.” (Source: Defence Connect)
30 Oct 19. Pentagon to develop interim agile software rules. The software portion of the Defense Department’s innovative adaptive acquisition framework, said one of the agency’s top acquisition officials, will be a sea-change in its acquisition practices.
The DoD’s traditional acquisition focus has been on buying large systems and hardware of all types, said Stacy Cummings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, acquisition, which aren’t the best when applied to fast moving software development.
Come January, the agency will get an interim policy change that will let it delve more deeply into agile, DevOp-types of software development, she said in remarks at the Professional Services Council’s Vision conference on Oct. 30.
By the end of the year, she said, the DoD will push out interim changes to Department of Defense Directive 5000.01 that will set up iterative development practices, rather than having to stick to more traditional methods.
The software “path,” according to Cummings, is one of several “transformational changes” in an adaptive acquisition framework recently announced by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.
The software path in the framework, Cummings said, will allow DevOps “software factories” to arise that can follow more agile timelines and rapid development techniques.
The overarching framework addresses the breadth of the agency’s acquisition pursuits, to facilitate decision-making and speed up acquisition processes. The new policy is being tested at the Defense Acquisition University at Fort Belvoir, Va., Cummings said.
Although the framework is aimed at broader acquisition change, Cummings said software development is right in the sweet spot of the framework’s intent, since software is malleable, changes rapidly and is adapted to myriad applications across the agency. Cummings said she expects a permanent policy sometime next year and will incorporate any necessary changes gleaned from experience under the interim rule. (Source: Defense Systems)
31 Oct 19. Kongsberg Geospatial and AiRXOS Partner on UTM. Kongsberg Geospatial, an Ottawa-based air traffic management company, and AiRXOS, part of GE Aviation, announced that AiRXOS has fully integrated the real-time airspace picture from the Kongsberg Geospatial IRIS airspace management application into the AiRXOS’ Air Mobility Platform for unmanned traffic management.
The Kongsberg Geospatial IRIS airspace management technology fuses multiple disparate, real-time sensor feeds to create a highly accurate airspace picture around critical infrastructure locations such as airports. This provides real-time calculation of aircraft separation, airspace monitoring alerts and communications line-of-sight prediction to enable detect and avoid for safe Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations. This real-time local airspace picture is then integrated into the cloud-based AiRXOS’ Air Mobility Platform, a dynamic, cloud-based foundation, purpose-built for advanced operations and the evolving future of transportation.
The Air Mobility Platform manages the volume, density, and variety of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) data, and provides enterprises with a single platform to connect and manage operations, applications, and devices. Through this collaboration, the companies will provide UTM customers a best-in-class, fully integrated view of airspace for real-time airspace insights, and greater scalability, and repeatability of advanced operations.
“Situational awareness of the airspace across applications, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) advanced operations, conformance monitoring, compliance, and pilots is critical to a UTM environment – allowing enterprises to be more responsive and efficient,” says Ken Stewart, CEO, AiRXOS. “Our partnership combines Kongsberg Geospatial’s expertise in airspace management with AiRXOS’ dynamic platform, applications, and services, providing customers with the opportunity to truly scale critical infrastructure advanced UAS operations like BVLOS and Multi-vehicle, helping to lower risk and increase savings.”
“We’re very pleased to be working with an unmanned traffic management innovator like AiRXOS,” said Ranald McGillis, President of Kongsberg Geospatial. “Their ability to create a comprehensive surveillance view of operations and then to scale it for a nation-wide use provides an excellent and very unique use case for our technology.” (Source: UAS VISION)
28 Oct 19. Businesses can express an interest in a share of £30m to tackle barriers to new products and services that exploit latest quantum technologies. New products and services based on the latest quantum technologies could transform the automotive, healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunications, cybersecurity and defence sectors.
Quantum physics underpins the electronics, media, computing and infrastructure systems we use in our daily life.
A second generation of quantum technologies based on new quantum effects potentially offers more secure digital communication, improved construction and radical increases in computing power.
Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, has up to £30m to invest in projects that remove technological barriers to speeding up commercialisation of these quantum technologies. The funding is from the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Projects should involve at least 2 partners and must look at removing a technological barrier to speeding up commercialisation of second-generation quantum technologies.
They must address at least one of the following areas:
- connectivity: techniques for securing data in storage and in flight
- situational awareness including autonomous systems, sensors and detectors for the built environment, transport and infrastructure, imaging and sensing of things currently invisible
- transformational computing to solve intractable problems
Potential projects should express an interest in the first phase. If they are successful, they will be invited to apply for funding in the second phase.
The competition opens on 28 October 2019, and the deadline for expressions of interest is at midday on 27 November 2019.
Businesses of any size may apply and it is expected that total costs of projects to range in size between £4m and £20m.
A briefing event takes place on 30 October 2019.
Click here to Find out more about this competition and express an interest. https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/490/overview
(Source: Defence Online)
29 Oct 19. Chief Information Officer Touts Technological Progress. The Defense Department’s chief information officer says technology underlies the departments National Defense Strategy, and he has put together a high-speed team that can capitalize on breakthroughs. “Since the day I arrived, my goal has been to ensure our warfighters have the tools they need to fight and win in the great power competition. This drives everything I do.” Dana Deasy, Defense Department chief information officer.
Dana Deasy testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee today. Although he has been the chief information officer since May 2018, the most recent National Defense Authorization Act called for persons in his position to be confirmed by the Senate.
Deasy came to the job after a career in the private sector. His worked in manufacturing, oil, financial services and more. He noted that in every one of those jobs, technology enabled progress, and he has carried that knowledge with him to his government job.
Deasy is responsible for the department’s Digital Modernization Strategy. This advances the National Defense Strategy’s vision of leveraging technologies. He and his team concentrate on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and command, and control and communications.
”We developed the first cloud strategy to move the department toward enterprise warfighting cloud,” he said. ”We wrote an artificial intelligence strategy that outlines five pillars critical to accelerating DOD’s adoption and integration of AI [artificial intelligence].”
On his watch, the department began the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center as the focal point to accelerate and scale the Defense Department’s fielding of AI capabilities. ”We have developed a comprehensive cybersecurity program that addresses our greatest cyber risks and creates accountability to ensure improvements are made,” he said.
“Since the day I arrived, my goal has been to ensure our warfighters have the tools they need to fight and win in the great power competition. This drives everything I do,” Deasy said. “Technology is foundational to how our warfighters will fight now and in the future.” (Source: US DoD)
29 Oct 19. TE Connectivity releases 10Gb/s Cat 7 Ethernet cables for military marine and defense applications. TE Connectivity (TE), a world leader in connectivity and sensors, introduces its Raychem Cat 7 cables. Designed for harsh military marine and defense applications, these ruggedized cables include features that optimize performance under tough conditions. TE’s Cat 7 cables support speeds up to 10Gb/s over four jacketed, individually-shielded and twisted pairs.
Utilizing the material sciences expertise developed by Raychem, TE is able to offer a multitude of options such as the low smoke, zero halogen jacket (ZEROHAL), which is approved to UK Defense Standard 61-12 Part 31. Constructions are available in 23 AWG solid bare copper and 24 AWG stranded tin coated copper that meet IEC 61156-6 electrical requirements for Category 7 cables.
“Our Raychem Cat 7 cables are designed for versatility and performance,” said Mark Johnstone, product manager for TE’s Aerospace, Defense and Marine division. “These cables are Raychem harness system compatible and can be used with other TE products like CeeLok FAS-T or CeeLok FAS-X connectors, making system integration easier for our customers.”
TE’s Raychem Cat 7 cables are designed for a variety of military and defense applications. Among these are missile warning systems, radio communication, remote weapon systems, fire control systems and high-speed networking.
28 Oct 19. ‘Collaborate to support Defence’s pursuit of integrating advanced materials.’ Defence Science and Technology and the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator have partnered to support international collaboration between Australian businesses and UK counterparts to better integrate advanced materials onto military platforms.
Australian businesses are urged to join others and bid for work in an international collaboration with the UK. The Australian government is encouraging tenders for “A Joint Effort – Integrating Advanced Materials onto Military Platforms – Stage 2”.
Stage 2, “A Joint Effort”, is looking for innovative joining technologies that enable the use of advanced materials and/or designs on military platforms in land, sea and air environments. It is being run collaboratively as part of ongoing partnership in Science and Technology within Defence.
In Australia, participation is being led by Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) and the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD), part of the Next Generation Technologies Fund. In the UK, participation is led by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
The competition will be managed by the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and funded collaboratively by both nations. Stage 2 will be looking for developed proposals beginning at a TRL 2-3 to test the technology/innovation in a laboratory setting against an application.
Advanced materials offer significant benefits to military capability; for example, through increased functionality, improved survivability, enhanced maintainability and reduced through-life cost. Military platforms across all operating domains (land, sea and air) need to incorporate an increasingly diverse range of materials to meet the complex and demanding requirements of the armed forces.
In order to exploit these benefits, advanced materials often need to be accommodated within existing designs or retro-fitted onto an existing platform, leading to a combination of materials and sub-systems on a single platform.
Consequently, joints and interfaces will often have challenging characteristics such as sharp changes in mechanical and mechanical properties, stress raisers, reduced structural integrity or susceptibility to environmental degradation.
These issues are exacerbated by the diverse and intense operating environments that a military platform will be exposed to during a typical operational lifetime, including environments that were not considered during manufacture.
Therefore, joining techniques must be robust, reliable and ideally tailorable to a range of operating scenarios. We are interested in creating and maintaining joints and interfaces, not just during manufacture, but throughout the platform life cycle.
Repair processes, whether emergency repairs on the front line or part of planned maintenance, must also keep up with advances in the manufacturing techniques used for the original structure. Innovations could either reduce the complexity or cost of repair processes or allow greater flexibility in the materials/components being repaired.
The technical scope remains unchanged from Stage 1. We are seeking innovative technologies that will help to expedite the insertion of advanced materials into platforms, through innovations in joining technologies.
SBIRD and DASA are seeking proposals that will deliver innovations in joining technology to enable the use of advanced materials on military platforms. Innovations should address the challenging demands of the defence environment and must therefore:
- Improve the durability of structures and joints to reduce failure and maintainability issues;
- Enable new design choices to be made for future military platforms to maintain a capability advantage;
- Provide new routes to create and manage joints across the life cycle of a military platform.
There is total funding of up to $1m available in Stage 2 of the topic within Australia; applications from other nations should refer to the UK documentation on the DASA website.
The topic closes at 23:00 (Eastern Daylight Savings Time), 12:00 (Midday) Greenwich Mean Time on Friday, 31 January 2020. Topic queries, including on process, application, technical, commercial and intellectual property aspects, should be sent to quoting the topic title. Specific questions relating to the submission process should be directed to
28 Oct 19. Great River Technology joins the SOSA consortium. ARINC 818 video protocol is moving forward through Industry. Global leader of ARINC 818 video protocol and 10+ years European partner of TECHWAY, Great River Technology announces its membership with the SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) consortium, further deepening its industry-wide relationships.
The goal of this membership is to leverage ARINC 818’s proven performances in Avionics applications to integrate other high-speed sensors and components requiring a robust, low-latency, high-bandwidth transport protocol.
As sensor systems increase in number, applications, cost and complexity, users need to address issues such as affordability, versatility and capabilities. Sensor systems should be rapidly reconfigurable and reusable by a greater number of stakeholders.
The SOSA consortium is introducing this culture of re-use by creating modular open system architectures dedicated to military and commercial sensor systems that adjust stakeholder interests. These architectures use widely supported, consensus-based, nonproprietary standards. The SOSA initiative enables enhance and accelerate the deployment of affordable, capable, interoperable sensor systems.
“Originally, ARINC 818 was intended for cockpit displays. In the last few years, we have seen the protocol adopted for cameras, heads-up displays, enhanced vision and degraded environment displays, and now high-speed EOIR and radar applications. The features that make ARINC 818 good for cockpit displays such as robust error checking, low-overhead and low latency, and high bandwidth, along with a proven pedigree with millions of hours in hundreds of aircraft make it ideal for sensors. We are looking forward to working with SOSA and its members to evaluate if ARINC 818 makes sense to be part of the standard.” says Paul Grunwald, Chief Systems Architect at Great River Technology.
About Great River Technology
GRT is a company specialized in the development of data and video transmission solutions dedicated for aeronautics applications. The standards used are HOTLink II Data and Video and ARINC 818 or FC-AV video protocol. GRT products are flyable and can be used in harsh environments and in different formats (PCI, PMC or stand-alone).
TECHWAY develops advanced solutions for image and signal processing. Our ambition is to ease the use of complex technologies by offering pre-integrated solutions to reduce their integration system costs.
25 Oct 19. Airbus inaugurates test facility for propulsion systems of the future. Airbus Chief Technology Officer Grazia Vittadini and Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke have officially opened the E-Aircraft Systems House test facility at Airbus’s Taufkirchen/Ottobrunn site alongside Ilse Aigner, President of the Bavarian State Parliament. The test centre will provide a space to research technologies for alternative propulsion systems and energy sources – such as electric motors for unmanned aerial vehicles, hybrid propulsion systems and hydrogen for combustion or synthetic fuel use. The building, which allows complete systems to be integrated and tested, is the first test centre of its kind worldwide.
Grazia Vittadini said: “The E-Aircraft Systems House represents a real competitive advantage for Airbus. With its 3,000 m2 test area, we now have the infrastructure to move the transition to emission-neutral flight forward at an even faster pace.”
25 Oct 19. Long-Range Power Beaming Demonstration. The first demonstration of long-range, free-space power beaming – a technology that enables energy to be transmitted using lasers – has been conducted at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland.
The system involves two 13-foot-high towers, one a 2-kilowatt laser transmitter, the other a receiver of specially designed photovoltaics. In the demonstration, invisible to the naked eye, a laser beamed 400 watts of power across 325 meters, from the transmitter to the receiver. The receiver converts the laser energy to DC power, which an inverter then turned into AC power to run lights, several laptops, and a coffeemaker that the organizers were using to make coffee for the attendees, or “laser lattes.”
PowerLight Technologies is the hardware provider for the Power Transmitted Over Laser (PTROL) project. The demonstration was two years in the making for PowerLight and Paul Jaffe, an electronics engineer with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
Early power beaming demonstrations took place in 1975, the first in Waltham, Massachusetts in the laboratories of Raytheon, and the second at the Goldstone Station of the Nasa Deep Space Network in California. Those were the two most important such demonstrations in history, Jaffe said, before the demonstration.
Jaffe has been conducting space-based solar energy research for more than a decade, focusing in part on transmitting solar energy from space to Earth. One of the biggest challenges he and others working on the problem have faced is the enormous sizes required for the transmitter and the receiver.
“Radio waves have a fairly long wavelength and in order to steer them effectively … you need a really big antenna,” he explained. “But as the wavelength gets shorter, as it does for infrared light, which is what we’re using here today, the transmitter and receiver can be much, much smaller.”
The photovoltaics of the receiver are similar to those of a typical solar panel, although they are designed to be sensitive to the single color of light of the laser, rather than the broad spectrum of sunlight. They convert that particular wavelength with much greater efficiency than would a regular solar photovoltaic.
The technology is being developed to send power to remote locations and to beam power to electric unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Flight time is currently severely limited by onboard battery life, and charging could be done ground-to-air or air-to-air.
“If you have an electric drone that can fly more than an hour, you’re doing pretty well,” Jaffe said. “If we had a way to keep those drones and UAVs flying indefinitely, that would have really far-reaching implications. With power beaming, we have a path toward being able to do that.”
According to Jaffe, power beaming could also make possible the transmission of power from solar-energy-collecting satellites in space to the ground, wherever it’s needed—whether that’s a forward operating base, a developing country or a refugee camp.
“If we could capture the boundless sunlight in space, where it’s brighter than anywhere on Earth, [we could] send it to places that are difficult and expensive to get energy to today,” he said. “If we can do that in an effective way and do for energy what GPS has done for navigation, it would truly be revolutionary.”
The technology also has the potential to power underwater autonomous vehicles for both increased enduranced and increased stealth.
The most notable aspect of the demonstration, says Jaffe, is the technology’s integrated safety systems. No one in the test facility that day was wearing laser safety goggles or any other kind of safety gear, including the personnel operating the system. To put that in perspective, a typical laser of just 1/2 watt requires protective eyewear.
Nearly all power beaming demonstrations in the past have involved at least the risk of exposure to hazardous power densities, whether optical or radio or microwave frequencies. The safety system has been designed detect objects such as humans and animals before they reach the laser beam and turn it off.
PowerLight now intends to increase the wattage the laser beam can transmit, increase the distance the system can send it and improve the system’s overall efficiency.
The system has received support and endorsements from the Navy, Marines, Army and Air Force. It’s expected to be ready to make the transition to Department of Defense and commercial use in the near future. (Source: UAS VISION/The Maritime Executive)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.