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FRIDAY 17 DECEMBER, 2010 | RSS Feed

US Army Evaluating Solar Powered Tents

 

by Energy Matters

Tent incorporating solar panels
The U.S. Army is running field trials on a variety of flexible, portable, lightweight solar-powered tents and shade structures.
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The structures, incorporating thin film solar panels, will allow for the on-site production of power for charging batteries, computers and other critical electronics without needing fuel or a generator.
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"They are ideal for charging up batteries, making sure your (communications), night vision goggles and computers are powered up. You donít want a generator on top of a mountain, and you donít want to have to bring fuel to a generator or haul batteries," said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment.
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The transportation of fuel in trouble spots is dangerous and incredibly expensive, costing up to $100 a litre.
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"Alternative energy sources are really going to shine in mission scenarios where you donít want to use a generator because you donít want the noise or heat signature that goes along with it, or where re-supplying that generator with fuel doesnít make sense," said Steven Tucker, a senior engineer at the Natick Soldier Research Design and Engineering Center.
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The Army says it had has already deployed some of these technologies around the world for additional evaluation, including† Afghanistan.
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"The technology has reached the point where the testing has shown they [solar-powered tents] are proven, " says† Hammack.

An example of a solar powered tent is the Temper Fly. Measuring approximately 5 metres by 6 metres, the structure is able to generate 800 watts of electricity. A smaller version called the Quadrant can churn out up to 200 watts of power. Other larger structures called Power Shades are capable of generating up to 3 kilowatts of electricity.
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The shelters use a special lamination process to combine the flexible solar cells into the textile substrate.

This isn't the first time we've seen solar tents - in 2009 we reported on the Orange Solar Tent; designed more for civilian use - but as far as we know; that hasn't made it past the concept stage.
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Photo credit U.S. Army
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