How important is electricity in a war?
Warfare is filled with high-tech innovations. But all of these innovations rely on electricity. Is it possible to have a battlefield where the electricity is never cut off?
Climate change is a major concern everywhere you look, and the battlefield is no exception. This has increased national security efforts to find new ways to supply energy and power to the battlefields of the future.
A 2021 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine stated that by 2035, purely battery-powered combat vehicles would not be technically feasible. The report also pointed to a drastic increase in energy use per soldier since WWII. All of this highlights the importance of managing the energy supply and making it more efficient.
So, the U.S. Army has set out to prepare its first-ever energy strategy.
Cutting-edge tactical systems are being developed that can be hand-held or worn by a soldier.
To address the problem of the increased load of devices worn by soldiers, the Army's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance — or C5ISR — Center is investing in new battery and power management technologies that will hopefully relieve soldier workloads and improve efficiency.
This office is working on many new technologies, including a small tactical universal battery system. It is also trying to come up with a more flexible power source, deploying generators with mobile microgrid systems and battery storage.
Wearable solar panels, portable fuel cells, and a backpack that harnesses the energy created by the bounce of a moving soldier are all things that are also being experimented with.
All of this would create more mobile power sources on the battlefield, which is what troops need to operate all of their advanced, wearable tech.
The NETT Warrior is one such example that relies on battery power often from a Conformal Wearable Battery (CWB). These give a soldier 18-24 hours of power and are a size of a notebook. The Army has developed a universal charging station within a vehicle's power system so these CWBs can charge.
That's one step forward, but they still have a long way to get where they need to be. We're looking forward to seeing what is next for the future of more energy-efficient battlefields.