FRIDAY 17 DECEMBER, 2010 |
US Army Evaluating Solar Powered Tents
The U.S. Army is running field trials on a variety of flexible, portable,
lightweight solar-powered tents and shade structures.
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.
"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.
The transportation of fuel in trouble spots is dangerous and incredibly
expensive, costing up to $100 a litre.
"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.
The Army says it had has already deployed some of these technologies around the
world for additional evaluation, including† Afghanistan.
"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.
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
; designed more for civilian use - but as far as we know; that
hasn't made it past the concept stage.
Photo credit U.S. Army
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