Cleantech Gets Marines Vetting In Desert

The U.S. military this week has been playing host to 13 vendors invited to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., to demonstrate cutting edge clean technologies that can quickly be developed and deployed to help soldiers on the ground in spots like Afghanistan.

This is the third ExFOB event the military has held. (What’s ExFOB? It’s military-speak for Experimental Forward Operating Base – newfangled ways to safely stage soldiers at the front lines.) Previous ExFOBs resulted in the Marine Corps gaining new tools for reducing fuel and water demand on the battlefield. As we’ve reported, moving these vital supplies is one of the most dangerous operations for the military and contractors. Now ExFOB 2011 has turned the focus toward two main areas: concentrated solar harvesting technology and tactical vehicle fuel efficiency.

ExFOB 2011, military renewable energy

image via U.S. Marine Corps

As outlined in a Federal Business Opportunities posting, in the solar category the military was seeking concentrated harvesting systems such as lens-focused photovoltaics and solar thermal dishes powering Sterling engines, as well as concentrated passive solar water heating systems. On fuel efficiency, it wanted ways to improve fuel efficiency for tactical vehicles while idling or static, including bolt-on auxiliary power units and better engine or power train efficiencies, along with “other automotive technologies such as cold and hot weather idle free solutions for vehicle climate control, reduction of parasitic loads, or any other automotive solutions designed to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.”

ExFOB 2011, military renewable energy

image via U.S. Marine Corps

Cogenera Solar was one of the companies that put out word about its involvement in ExFOB 2011.” The military is interested in Cogenra’s technology as a means to most rapidly and effectively enhance the self-sufficiency of FOBs roughly the size of a Marine Corps Company (approximately 200 Marines) by utilizing the sun to produce both power and hot water at remote locations,” the company said.

NEST Energy Systems and International Battery were two more vendors at ExFOB, joining forces to demonstrate a system they said reduces fuel consumption in medium tactical vehicle replacement (MTVR) trucks – which use excessive idling as a means of generating electrical energy – by 75 percent. The companies said MTVRs are “frequently used to provide peak (2.5 kilowatts) power for ground-based systems, such as radios, laptops, blue-force trackers, etc.” For the demonstration, the system was to be paired with a 430-watt portable solar panel to charge the unit.

Raw video of the event going on this week can be seen below, courtesy of this CNN iReport:

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.