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Electrochemical power for future Army

The future battlefield is becoming increasingly electronic and the military becomes ever more power-hungry.

Army is seeking diversified solutions to the power needs on battlefield, which includes fuel cells, capacitors of both electrochemical and dielectric natures, photovoltaic as well as alternate fuels, with batteries still playing a  central role.

The categories of energy used in DoD span multiple platforms and can be described similarly as to those in the commercial sector (portable electronics, transportation and grid) with similarities and differences: (1) Soldier Power, mostly batteries or hybrid systems which can support the electronic gadgets of a dismounted Soldier for certain length of missions. (2) Mobile Power: These are of several types, one is the 6T battery for military vehicles, Ancillary Power Units (APU)  which are usually integrated as part of the power system but do not serve as the prime power source. This power source supports the communication and surveillance in the platforms when the main engine is switched off; power is also needed for manned underwater vehicles;  and autonomous vehicles, both air, ground underwater (UAV, UGV, UUV) and (3) Local Grids for Camps and Bases where energy regulation and storage are key research areas. Also unique for military applications are so-called reserve batteries, which serve to activate the munitions (munitions, missiles, smart-bombs etc) upon launching and power for unattended ground sensors.

Extended missions greater than 72 hrs requires logistic resupply which is costly, both in dollars as well as lives, so sustainable energy systems have become an area of research to support tactical unit energy independence. Electrochemistry is a key enabler of energy systems of the future for the Army and current research thrusts will be discussed.

Dr. Cynthia Lundgren is the Branch Chief of the Electrochemistry Branch within the Power and Energy Division. The research in her Branch focuses on energy storage and conversion technologies with the goal of reducing the weight burden on the soldier and alleviating logistics resupply. The technologies being developed include advanced batteries, fuel cells, capacitors and chemical storage of solar energy. Prior to joining ARL in 2005, Dr. Lundgren spent 17 years at DuPont in Central Research and Development working on a variety of electrochemical technologies. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1987 under the direction of Prof. Royce Murray