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The design of a portable and deployable solar energy system for deployed military applications

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10 Author(s)

Global Positioning Systems, thermal imaging scopes, satellite phones, and other electronic devices are critical to the warfighter in Forward Operating Environments. Many are battery operated and require charging. We used a Systems Engineering approach to compare existing portable energy systems and to specifically design a portable solar energy system for use tailored for a deployed military/combat unit. We considered ease of setup/teardown, power delivered, weight, and many other factors that contribute to the level portability required. As deployed units are often in areas with little or no permanent sources of electricity, powering and/or charging electronic devices can be a challenge and diesel generators are the typical solution. Generators require fuel (approximately 1 gallon/hour for 10 kVA) which is extremely costly in both money and safety of soldiers tasked with transporting fuel. Understanding the factors that affect portability and knowing which ones are the most important is key to determining whether a particular energy generation system is an asset or liability. Currently, there is no simple rubric to characterize what portability is and how to compare two systems. We therefore created a rubric to aid our analysis of portability. With such a set of measurements and procedures, designs can be meaningfully compared and once designed, we used the new metrics to improve our overall design. Several conceptual designs were drafted and compared, using the metric, to current diesel generators used by the U.S. military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We identified areas where diesel generators are superior and areas where the solar energy systems are superior. The remainder of this paper outlines our process and results.

Published in:

Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium (SIEDS), 2011 IEEE

Date of Conference:

29-29 April 2011