Under A Rising Sun – Diggers Going Solar

The Australian National University (ANU) says it has developed solar technology that could revolutionise electricity generation for Australian soldiers in the field. 
   
The ANU’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems has released details of a wearable solar panel system for soldiers which could replace hefty battery packs for the ever-increasing array of electronic devices infantry personnel are required to carry in the field.
    
Batteries for GPS systems, radio packs, even laptop computers can add up to 10 percent of the 45-70kg of weight soldiers must carry on missions. According to Dr Igor Skryabin, Development Manager of the ANU project, the ultimate goal would be to build a solar panel vest that could eliminate the need for batteries altogether. 
    
"The development of these wearable solar cells will now allow soldiers to generate power in the field and reduce the need for batteries for their electronic devices. They will also establish a power supply that keeps electronic devices operational throughout the duration of missions," he said. 
   
The program is part of a $2.3 million contract between the ANU and the Department of Defence to increase the capability and technology of the defence force.
The "solar soldier" concept isn’t a new one. The UK has its version, as does the USA where soldiers carry small solar panels, solar inverters and generators in special rucksacks.
    
However, the ANU’s aim was to design a system that would and increase infantry mobility, and the key to doing this, according to Chief Investigator Professor Andrew Blakers, was the SLIVER solar cell, developed by ANU scientists.
   
"These cells have the same thickness of a sheet of paper or a human hair. This means they are flexible, lightweight and allow high power to weight ratios to be achieved. The cells are also bifacial, allowing modules to be constructed that allow light to be absorbed from both faces."
   
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