Thursday, August 11, 2011

Soldiers to Use Solar Power in Combat

Australian soldiers could soon be using the sun to power their devices in the field thanks to wearable lightweight solar panels.

The solar cells, developed by the Australian National University (ANU) convert light directly into electricity via SLIVER solar cell technology.  The ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems developed the SLIVER cells as part of a $2.3 million contract with the Department of Defense.  The project's chief investigator Professor Andrew Blakers said the new sliver cells built by Transform Solar in Boise, Idaho were the basis for the wearable solar panels.

The silver cells are flexible in that they can be rolled up, put in a package, and carried long distances and then unfurl them for use in remote areas. The wearable panels could be worn on a soldier's helmet, on their front and/or back, their packs, their weapons and tents.  The solar panels were more rugged than conventional panels and they could operate in temperatures from minus 40 degrees to 65 degrees.

The sliver solar panels would reduce the weight soldiers carried in the field.  Whereas typically they need to carry dozens of AA, AAA, C cells and D cells for operations in Afghanistan. The average soldier would be carry around half a kilogram of batteries to operate radios, night vision devices, torches, communications.

The sliver cells could be used also by civilians to provide mobile power for things like iPods, iPhones, remotes, sensors and the like.


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