It’s true, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) recently held an “Energy and Sustainability Technology Fair” in the courtyard at the Pentagon. But no, there wasn’t a table there selling organic pumpkin-hemp muffins, with the proceeds intended for Occupy Wall Street.
The military hasn’t gone all hippie – it just wants to take advantage of tools that can help soldiers do a better, safer job. “Most critically, we want less exposure for our soldiers in theater, particularly when every convoy in theater puts soldiers at risk,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said. “Seventy percent of our convoy load in theater is fuel and water, so anything we can do to reduce that exposure is a good thing and at the same time we think these alternatives will be huge money savers.”
Among the items on display was a “soldier-worn integrated power equipment system” that, according to the Army, has “a cable system that provides power that is networked throughout a soldier’s entire body armor through a conformal battery weighing only 2.2 pounds.” The system can be charged using a foldable solar panel carried in the soldier’s assault pack, and has been used by the 2nd Stryker Cavalry regiment and the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team during deployments.
Another item: The Solar Hybrid Expeditionary Purification System (pictured above). It “consists of two 80-pound footlocker-sized boxes, one of which contains batteries that power a water-purification system which is in the other box,” the Army said. Four 135-watt folding solar panels can either power the water system directly or charge the batteries.
The Army said the water-purifying system, intended for use in remote areas, not surprisingly, is due to be tested at Fort Roberts, Calif., in November.