U.S. MARINES fighting the war in Afghanistan have embraced solar power as a way to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on batteries and generators at the front lines. The use of solar energy and renewable energy sources is part of a plan by the Corps to cut by half its reliance on non-renewable energy sources by 2025.
A solar cell no bigger than the dot over the letter “i” is setting new standards for efficiency and could significantly reduce the cost of solar-provided power in hot, dry regions, making solar energy more competitive with established, conventional sources of electricity, according to experts.
The U.S. Defense Department has awarded $18 million to six programs to reduce the energy demand of future expeditionary outposts. The funds are for programs aimed at developing and rapidly transitioning energy technologies for the combat force.
For the Navy and other services, advantages of biofuels are obvious and desirable. Top Agriculture Department and Navy leaders emphasize the benefits of renewable energy sources not only to the military but also to the entire United States. How can industry help the Navy reach its timetable goals, and how do all participants in the alternative energy theater collaborate to share resources and implement them?
Are the Marine Corps and other services close to completely adapting to alternative power sources? Their progress is compelling. Is it possible to envision a future force relying solely on green steam, or is it just half pipe dream? Share your ideas and suggestions on how to see these technologies succeed.
Scientists are turning humble pond scum into fuel. A research effort seeks to develop techniques to grow algae economically and to convert the oils produced by the tiny plants into biodiesel on an industrial scale.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has never shied away from the toughest engineering and science challenges, and the school is maintaining this tradition by launching a far-reaching program to develop new energy technologies. Researchers are working to create innovative solutions and applications for fossil fuels; nuclear power; biomass and biofuels; and wind, water, ocean, solar and geothermal power.
Warfighters soon may turn to the sun to recharge their battlefield electronics. The U.S government is developing highly efficient solar cells that will be built into batteries and tactical equipment such as night vision goggles, personal navigation devices and radios. The effort seeks to cut the number of spare batteries carried by soldiers to save weight and reduce logistics requirements.
Bringing the network to warfighters will be futile without a source of energy to feed the numerous devices they will rely on for survival and lethality. Today's fast-paced high-technology battlespace is screaming for long-lasting, lightweight batteries, and the U.S. Army is answering the call by exploring battery chemistries and smart batteries as well as working with equipment designers. In some areas, the service has made great advances; in others, it is still waiting for the technological improvements that industry promised years ago.
The U.S. military services are turning their attention to energy practices and energy sources as a matter of national defense and security. As debates rage over oil costs and usage as well as the question of when peak oil—the highest rate at which oil can be pumped from the Earth—will be achieved, the service branches are examining ways to use fuel more wisely and exploring alternative energy sources. While experts disagree on many energy issues, most agree that the United States needs to develop renewable and sustainable energy options now to prepare for the future, and the military must take a lead role in that paradigm shift.