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Military Battery Technology

Specifying Batteries for Weapon Systems and Space Applications Ubiquitous Portable Power: Military Requirements from Battery Technology Batteries and Soldier Modernisation The Future Technology Challenge

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Published by Global Business Media



Military Battery Technology


Specifying Batteries for Weapon Systems and Space Applications Ubiquitous Portable Power: Military Requirements from Battery Technology Batteries and Soldier Modernisation The Future Technology Challenge



Mary Dub, Editor

Specifying Batteries for Weapon Systems and Space Applications


Paul F. Schisselbauer and Monica V. Stoka, EnerSys Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: Website: Publisher Kevin Bell

Company Profile Introduction Understanding Requirements Battery Types/Configurations Electrochemistry Selection Selected Battery Descriptions Valve Regulated Lead Acid – High Energy – High Power – Lithium Ion – Satellite Batteries – Extravehicular Mobility Unit – Summary

Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks

Ubiquitous Portable Power: Military Requirements from Battery Technology

Editor Mary Dub

Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

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Batteries for Submarines and Underwater Uses Military Aviation Needs Battery Weight: an Enduring and Heavy Problem for Dismounted Soldiers Reducing the Logistics Burden

Batteries and Soldier Modernisation


Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

The British Army’s ‘Solar Soldier’ Programme How Does Solar Soldier Work? The Swiss Army Tackles Merging Legacy Systems with Modern to Optimum Effect The Italian Army’s Soldato Futuro The Romanian Army has Issues with Access to Batteries and Body Armour Sagem’s New Power Systems give France’s FELIN Elan Spain’s COMFUT (COMbatiente FUTuro) Addresses the Issue of Working with Primary and Re- Chargeable Batteries Unburdening the Soldier Through Innovation

The Future Technology Challenge


Meredith LLewelyn, Lead Contributor

Power Management Importance Sustainable Power Options: Solar and Bio Energy The View Over the Horizon






RIMARY AND re-chargeable batteries are the hidden power behind the digital battlefield. And it is not just C4I equipment: ammunition,

submarines, helicopters, and vehicles are all battery dependent. This issue contains four insightful assessments of where we are today. When selecting a battery for a particular application, design engineers need to consider a number of factors including the use to which the battery is to be put; whether the battery is to be used immediately or stored for use in the future; and cost. The Report opens by examining the different systems that are available and goes on to look at the importance that batteries play in the field of defence and, in particular, in relation to munitions and satellite applications. The first section ends with descriptions of various types of batteries giving details of specifications and comparative advantages. The next piece focuses on the diversity of applications for batteries and the extent to which they have to be customized by the manufacturing industry. It discusses the specifications for ruggedness and robustness that the military require to perform in extreme environments in modern warfare. The third section looks at the progress being made through Europe to address the issue of soldier modernization, while taking on board the latest research on the importance of not over burdening the dismounted soldier. Today’s soldier carries a third of his body weight in weaponry, protective clothing and communications equipment. He is so laden that in some cases he is being prevented from fighting with agility and flexibility, which is vital in a desert environment in counter- insurgency warfare. Research programmes, in association with universities and industry, are working on new products based on new technologies to reduce the weight and volume of primary batteries. Much of the work is beginning to produce results of interest to the battery manufacturers. Some of the latest ideas coming over the horizon on new ways of generating sustainable energy for military applications are the subject of the final review in this Report.

Mary Dub Editor

Mary Dub has covered the defence field in the United States and the UK as a television broadcaster, journalist and conference manager. Focused by a Masters in War Studies from King’s College, London, she annotates and highlights the interplay of armies, governments and industry.



Specifying Batteries for Weapon Systems and Space Applications Special thanks to the following contributors: Nick Simmons and Peter Barry, ABSL Power, Culham, England; Kevin Schrantz, ABSL Space, Longmont, CO, USA; Steve Benulis, EnerSys Advanced Systems, Reading, PA, USA; and Scott Lichte, EnerSys Energy Products, Warrensburg, MO, USA.

Company Profile EnerSys is the largest manufacturer of industrial batteries in the world. With annual revenues of approximately $2 billion dollars, the company operates 25 facilities worldwide and has 10,000 customers in 100 countries. EnerSys is a U.S. owned global corporation with its headquarters located in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA. The EnerSys technologies include Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid, NiCd, Lithium-ion and Lithium primary reserve batteries. Its business is divided into three markets: Reserve Power, Motive Power, and Aerospace and Defense. In the Aerospace and Defense market, EnerSys products are used in military aircraft, combat and tactical vehicles, surface ships, submarines, smart weapons, satellites, unmanned vehicles, and soldier portable applications. This article features some of the products EnerSys offers for the Aerospace and Defense market.

Introduction Design engineers are often faced with the task of specifying or selecting a battery for a new application. Unless the engineer is experienced in this area, it is possible that power and energy requirements can be overstated, such that no existing battery system can do the job. If this occurs, the system may have to be redesigned or a custom battery developed, both of which add unwanted cost. If a battery exists that is close to what is required, it can often be used as a basis for developing a compliant power source, which will save time and money. When selecting a battery, some of the design choices that must be made are: • Active or reserve – will the battery be used immediately or does it need to sit in the dormant state for years prior to use? • Primary or secondary – is the battery for a single use or does it need to be recharged multiple times? • Electrochemical couple – does the battery need to be optimized for high power or

Figure 1. ARMASAFE Plus/6TAGM Battery – NSN6140-01-485-1472 – P/N 9750N7025 The EnerSys Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology maximizes deliverable power and energy.

high energy and operate over a particular temperature range? • Ionic salts, additives, etc., – does the chemistry need to be tailored to provide higher voltage, increased rate capability, or control electrode passivation? • Configuration – which electrode or cell design is best suited for the application? What is the form factor required? EnerSys can help ensure that the correct battery system is chosen for an application by assisting in requirements evaluation, specification preparation, and trade-off studies.

Understanding Requirements When specifying a battery, it is important to establish the actual requirements. Design margins should not be added as battery engineers normally apply their own margins to ensure that the product meets specification. Burying design margins in the requirements can result in an over-design, adding unwanted cost, size and weight. It is acceptable to identify both requirements and goals in the battery specification. Battery engineers will take the needs and wants of the customer into consideration and assign priority to meeting the needs first. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


When specifying a battery, it is important to establish the actual requirements. Design margins should not be added as battery engineers normally apply their own margins to ensure that the product meets specification.

Figure 2. High Energy Density Li/ SOCl2 Cell PN G3147A1 The Lithium/Thionyl Chloride Electrochemical couple offers the highest energy density of the practical battery systems.

Battery Types/Configurations A battery can be either active or reserve. An active battery is fully operational and can be used immediately. It may last or have a shelf life of approximately 5 to 10 years depending on the system. Most commercial “drugstore” batteries are the active type. A reserve battery is provided in the dormant (inactive) state and requires activation prior to use. Reserve batteries usually separate the active components or are not ionically conductive until activation. There are several methods used to achieve activation including: stab initiation, primer initiation, electrical initiation, mechanical shock or impact. The activation method is driven by the type of application. Reserve batteries typically provide a shelf life of 20 years or more. Batteries are also either primary or secondary in type. Primary batteries are good for one use and then they are spent. They are non-rechargeable. Secondary batteries are rechargeable and may be used multiple times. The usefulness of a secondary battery is limited by its electrochemistry and charge/ discharge regime. To maximize battery life, it is important to follow the recommended charging instructions and avoid abusive conditions that can degrade battery performance, such as over-charging and discharging below the recommended cutoff voltage. Depending on power and energy requirements, various electrode configurations are used. Some configurations are: discrete unit cells, bipolar cell stacks, and hybrid bipolar cell stacks. A discrete unit cell can be comprised of a single voltaic cell that may utilize a wrapped electrode set or a pair of parallel plates enclosed in discrete case that eliminates electrolytic leakage currents. Cells of this configuration can have extended wet stand times or active life. Batteries can use bipolar cell stack designs to minimize size and simplify the manufacture of high voltage units. In a bipolar cell stack, a common current collector (bipolar element) is used between the cells. This is a very efficient way to accomplish the series electrical connections between cells. Batteries using this configuration are robust and volumetrically efficient. The hybrid bipolar cell stack configuration is similar to the bipolar cell stack configuration with the exception that it also contains parallel plates within cells. This is done to increase the working electrode area of the battery. The main reason to use this configuration is to boost power capability.

Electrochemistry Selection There are a number of electrochemical couples used in modern combat systems. The battery’s chemistry selection is driven by the mission. Motive applications typically require 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

a rechargeable chemistry that can provide moderate to high power such as the lead acid system. Munitions can either require high energy or high power chemistries. Applications that require extended active stand times are more suited to high energy chemistries such as lithium/thionyl chloride and lithium/sulfuryl chloride. Projectile and missile applications that demand the energy delivered at very fast rates are suited to a high power chemistry such as lithium silicon/iron disulfide. Communication batteries used by soldiers in the field must be lightweight and comfortable to use and wear, while still delivering enough capacity for long missions. Lithium-ion pouch cells are capable of meeting these requirements, and they can be packaged together in different configurations depending on system requirements. Satellite applications require low to moderate power with very high cycle life. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites may require about 27,000 cycles to 5-10% Depth of Discharge (DoD) over 5 years and Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites may require 1,800 cycles to 70% DoD over 18 years. Lithium-ion chemistries such as lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide meet these requirements. A comparison of some characteristics of selected chemistries is shown in Table 1.

Selected Battery Descriptions Valve Regulated Lead Acid – The Armasafe Plus / 6TAGM lead acid battery, shown in Figure 1, uses EnerSys proprietary Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology, giving it distinct advantages over the standard military flooded cell batteries. The battery has a 30 month shelf life and up to three times the service life of a standard battery. It provides a nominal voltage of 12 volts and rated capacity of 120 Ah. The Armasafe Plus / 6TAGM battery offers more starting power with 1225 Cold Crank Amps (CCA), and it has a typical cycle life of 360 cycles to 70% DoD. The Armasafe Plus lead acid battery size is NATO 6T. It is environmentally safe, non-spillable, maintenance free, air transportable, and is qualified to MIL-PRF-32143. High Energy – The G3147A1 lithium/thionyl chloride cell, shown in Figure 2, is a self-contained, hermetic, reserve primary cell capable of being stored in excess of 20 years and then be activated on demand. It is stab initiated, and it activates in less than 800 ms at ambient temperature. It provides a voltage of 2.5 to 3.6 volts and can deliver a current of 15


Lithium Silicon Iron Disulfide

Lithium Ion


Lead Acid

Lithium Thionyl Chloride











Working Voltage/cell (V)

1.8 - 2.0

3.0 - 3.9

1.6 - 2.1

2.5 – 4.2

Energy Density (Wh/kg)

17 - 40

300 - 440 (active)

20 - 45


Power Capability

Moderate to High



Low to Moderate

Cycle Life





-43 to 71

-54 to +105

-20 to +60

Operating Temp. Range (ºC)

-40 to +71

Table 1. Characteristics of Selected Chemistries.

mA continuously. The cell’s capacity is rated at 280 mAh at 0.5 mA. It is capable of operation across the full military temperature range of -42°C to +65°C.

The G3190B2 battery has overall dimensions of 38.1 mm diameter and 60.45 mm length. It has a nominal weight of 250 g and was designed to withstand the environments of MIL-STD-331. Lithium Ion – The Conformable Lithium-ion Battery (CLB), shown in Figure 4, is a portable, wearable rechargeable battery system designed to ease the ergonomic load of the soldier. It provides a nominal voltage of 14.4 volts and can deliver up to 10 A. The battery’s capacity is rated at 9.6 Ah. The typical cycle life of the CLB is 500 cycles to 70% DoD. Its operating temperature range is -20°C to +60°C.

Figure 3. High Power Density LiSi/FeS2 Thermal Battery PN G3190B2 The Lithium Silicon/Iron Disulfide electrochemical couple offers more than four times the power capability of a Lead/ Lead Dioxide couple.

The G3147A1 cell has overall dimensions of 12.7 mm diameter and 21.34 mm length. It has a nominal weight of 6.2 g and was designed to withstand the environments of MIL-STD-331. High Power – The G3190B2 thermal battery, shown in Figure 3, is a self-contained, hermetic, reserve primary power source capable of being stored in excess of 20 years and then be activated on demand. It is electrically initiated and activates in less than 500 ms. It provides a voltage of 22 to 32 volts and can deliver a current of 7 A continuously. The battery’s capacity is rated at 50 mAh at 350 mA. It is capable of operation and storage across the full military temperature range of -54°C to +105°C.

Figure 4. The Conformable Lithium-Ion Battery P/N 430976 The CLB gives increased comfort and enhanced weight distribution for the wearer.

The CLB battery has overall dimensions of 266 mm x 182 mm x 30 mm and has a nominal weight of 900 g. The battery is SM Bus compliant and has safety features including overcharge protection, over temperature protection and cell balancing. It has passed all WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


Operational lifetimes

required environmental and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) tests, and has been extremely popular with soldiers in the field.

for small satellites can

Satellite Batteries – ABSL Space provides a 15 Ah battery designed primarily for use on small satellites. This class of satellite has a typical mass of between 50 to 200 kg and normally operates in a low Earth orbit. Operational lifetimes for small satellites can reach 10 years. During the lifetime of the mission the satellites will orbit the Earth 15 times each day. Depending on the orbit inclination, the battery may be required to provide power every orbit during times of eclipse when the spacecraft’s solar arrays are blocked from the sun. During a 10 year mission the battery could be exposed to as many as 60,000 cycles.

reach 10 years. During the lifetime of the mission the satellites will orbit the Earth 15 times each day.

Extravehicular Mobility Unit – ABSL has delivered four high energy density Lithium-ion long life battery assemblies to NASA Johnson Space Center for the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Program. The EMU Spacesuit provides environmental protection, mobility, life support, and communications for a shuttle or ISS crew member to perform extra-vehicular activity in Earth orbit. On February 24, 2011, the battery assemblies were launched aboard Shuttle Discovery on its last mission to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). The batteries are designed to provide 50 multihour space walks over their 5 year life. The battery will power all the life-support systems in the space suit, the fans that circulate the air, the heat exchanger, and the pumps that circulate water through the suit. The rechargeable EMU battery, shown in Figure 6, utilizes the commercial ABSL 18650NL Li-Ion high energy density cell. The battery provides 17.5 volts and 38.4 Ah capacity. Cell level energy density is >190Wh/kg. The 18650NL cell consists of a lithium cobalt positive electrode material and a graphitic carbon negative electrode providing 3.75 volts and 2400 mAh.

Figure 5. ABSL Satellite Battery ABSL offers proven battery designs for LEO & GEO satellites as well as interplanetary missions where long-life and high energy density are key requirements.

The battery module is made up of Li-ion 18650HC heritage cells. ABSL has extensive experience and data on this particular cell. Since 1996 the cell chemistry of the 18650HC has remained stable and ABSL has undertaken an extensive life test program to characterize and fully understand the cell’s long term performance. To date ABSL has powered over 70 spacecraft that are currently operating in-orbit using the 18650HC cell. It is the most characterized and proven Li-ion cell in the space industry. The battery module can be equipped with additional features to enhance its capability such as integrated heaters. Effective thermal control can often be a significant issue at system level, and an integrated heater enables the battery to maintain optimum temperature autonomously, reducing the complexity of the thermal sub-system. The 4kg battery module has become ABSL’s most widely used battery design for small satellite programs, featured on 20 spacecraft that are currently in-orbit. 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

Figure 6. ABSL EMU Battery The EMU battery is currently powering critical life support systems on NASA missions.

The EMU battery is designed to withstand thermal cycling between 14°C to 39°C. It can survive random vibration of up to 9.89 g and shock of up to 20G. Battery dimensions are 295 mm x 103 mm x 126 mm with a weight of 6.6 kg.

Summary EnerSys does more than just supply batteries; it works in close partnership with Aerospace and Defense customers around the world to provide integrated energy storage solutions. Whether your mission is on the land, sea, in the air, or space, EnerSys offers an energy storage solution to power your applications. By: Paul Schisselbauer, EnerSys and Monica Stoka, EnerSys


Ubiquitous Portable Power: Military Requirements from Battery Technology Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

In 2011 it is hard to underestimate the critical role of reserve power in batteries for 21st century war fighting. Their frequently hidden, but vital role underpins almost every activity. Gianfranco Pistoia lists the military applications of batteries; it’s a long and diverse list: “Mobile Communications, Under Water Warfare, Soldiers Equipment, Autonomous Underwater Systems, Missile and Ammunitions Systems, Aviation, All-Electric Ships, Autonomous Aerial Vehicles. More specifically: Night Vision Equipment, Data Terminals, GPS, Radios, Gas Masks, Loud Speakers, Counter Measures, Jammers, Radiation Detectors, Mini Ocean Buoy Systems, Undersea Mines, Robotics, Rescue Radio/Beacons, Chemical Agent Monitors, Antennae, Scramblers, Radar Range Finders, Weather Instruments, Cooling Systems, Handheld Metal Detectors, Laser- Based Battle Simulations, Thermal Imaging, Portable Electronics”.1 These multi-function batteries need enhanced capabilities to serve a military purpose over and above what might be expected of a battery for commercial or industrial use. Many need to be rugged and shock-proof, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures -40 to +60º, water submersion, excessive shock and vibration (1m drop test on to concrete), with minimal electromagnetic interference (EMI). Other qualities required are: high power, safety and light weight, no voltage delays after long storage periods for immediate combat readiness. 2 Even some types of ammunition use batteries: “to sense the presence of a target and initiate function of ammunition. Batteries powering the fuses belong to the class of reserve batteries and are kept inactive for long periods of time. Activation of the ammunition is by a.) Breaking a reservoir containing a liquid electrolyte b.) By heating an electrolyte to melt it.”3 Drones of all sizes, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are another special case where

The EnerSys® Hawker® F16 VRLA battery

customized batteries are required. The new and extensively used unmanned air systems (UAVs) are battery dependent. Large systems exploit “more forms of propulsion than manned aircraft: some use batteries and solar power and are exploring, for example, fuel cells and nuclear isotopes. Micro and small UAVs use batteries for propulsion. A range of different batteries is mentioned in literature: Zn-air, NI-Mh, Ni-Cd, Liion and the merging Li/S.”4

Batteries for Submarines and Underwater Uses Submarines and all electric ships, nuclear and conventional submarines may use batteries for energy storage, lighting and electronics power supplies and for tactical mobility in combat situations. Ideal batteries for these naval resources are large Li-ion batteries, for example, the Dauphin modules developed by SAFT (3.5V, 9 kWh, 120kg). Furthermore, many torpedoes are propelled by batteries. The submarine market is extremely important for a number of manufacturers. In recent years, Enersys has been supplying navies with thin plate pure lead technology for the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet and has developed large lithium ion batteries that can serve both propulsion and reserve power needs on board submarine fleets in the future. Submarines also use flooded lead acid, tubular/gel, and sealed valve regulated lead acid AGM (absorbed WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 7


General Fuller highlighted

glass mat) batteries. Products for navies need to be shock, vibration and submergence proof.

Military Aviation Needs

how operating in different

and logistics problems

Different services of the armed forces offer very different markets, with different battery requirements. Aviation needs are for startup and communications equipment, which is critical for flight safety and for failsafe systems. Temperature range tolerance is wider -30ºC to 70ºC with a high capacity at deep temperatures, quick rechargeability and optimum charge acceptance during flight. No thermal runaway is important, as is stability and the capacity to remain charged at high temperatures. So is long lifetime between specified maintenance checks and tolerance of 45% to 75% humidity.

which meant that retaining

Battery Weight: an Enduring and Heavy Problem for Dismounted Soldiers

theatres created different power supply problems

sufficient batteries meant re-thinking tactics.

The battery requirements for the dismounted soldier have become an increasingly pressing issue. At its nub is the issue that today’s soldier in the field is over burdened with equipment to fight with, to protect himself and to communicate. However, the weight of this equipment is, to a certain extent, having the reverse effect because it over burdens him and prevents agility and maneuverability in the field when on patrol or under fire. Brigadier General Peter Fuller leads the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, which procures and sustains virtually everything that the US soldier wears. Every time it updates equipment, PEO’s goal is to make the item lighter, give it more capability and improve its standardisation profile. General Fuller outlined the PEO’s strategy for batteries: “We are trying to get rid of all the unique batteries that soldiers carry. We would like to have everyone use either AA, AAA or CR123 batteries. We are trying to get it so soldiers can swap batteries between different devices.” General Fuller highlighted how operating in different theatres created different power supply problems and logistics problems which meant that retaining sufficient batteries meant re-thinking tactics. “The [Land Warrior] Stryker brigade operated completely differently in Afghanistan to how it was operated in Iraq. Power is a challenge because they are not operating from a FOB (Forward Operating Base) via a vehicle to an operation, then back to a FOB in their vehicles. [In Afghanistan] they are leaving their FOB, they are leaving their vehicles and they are operating dismounted for several days. Carrying kit for Land Warrior for


The AB2590 Lithium-ion rechargeable military battery

several days requires power; whether they be night vision devices, laser aiming devices or whatever it might be. The resupply of power is a challenge so we are focusing on how do we lighten the load and do this rapidly.”

Reducing the Logistics Burden The issue of resupply of batteries was echoed by the Marines who saw the urgency of maintaining sufficient battery capacity as mission-critical for forces fighting on patrol away from vehicles. Assessments of lessons learned on operation offer examples of soldiers carrying extra loads of batteries because of fear of insufficient resupply and the resultant loss in communications for the unit. Mark Richter, MERS (Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad) Program Manager gave an example of this. “Load carriage is always an issue and the MERS teams want to understand that issue better. In one survey, 76 percent of the company said they carried extra stuff because of resupply concerns. They were often undertaking operations as much as 50-60Km away from their base with supply from the road having to run an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) gauntlet. In establishing the loads carried, each Marine was asked to list the equipment carried, from which a total load could be established. The most batteries were carried were three 18-battery blocks of C123 batteries.” Richter said, “He was the battery resupply guy. He was going to carry so many, that no matter what, so everyone would be able to get their comms going.” Richter also stressed the issue of volume: “Besides weight, the volumetric issue is also important, as it affects the soldier’s performance in confined spaces, such as indoors, inside a vehicle or aircraft.”6


Batteries and Soldier Modernisation Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

Confronting the reality of keeping frontline troops supplied with sufficient power when away from Forward Operating Bases and their vehicles for up to 72 hours is the work of the Programme Managers in various NATO countries. Many are working hard to combat the issues of weight, volume, diversity and readiness of the range of batteries needed for modern counter-insurgency warfare or humanitarian assistance.

The British Army’s ‘Solar Soldier’ Programme

The ModEnergy Lithium-ion MPS300 Series silent watch battery

The British Army has taken on board the problems of weight and volume and is working with a cluster of Britain’s universities to produce new solutions. Lead by the University of Glasgow, a team drawn from Loughborough, Strathclyde, Leeds, Reading and Brunel Universities are working with a project with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Their research is also supported by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).7

operations. It will also absorb energy across the electromagnetic spectrum, making infantry less liable to detection by night vision equipment that uses infra-red technology, for instance.9 What is new about the technology being introduced according to the research council is that:

“Infantry need electricity for weapons, radios, global positioning systems and many other vital pieces of equipment,” says Professor Duncan Gregory of the University of Glasgow. “Batteries can account for over ten per cent of the 45-70kg of equipment that infantry currently carry. By aiding efficiency and comfort, the new system could play a valuable role in ensuring the effectiveness of army operations.”8

How Does Solar Soldier Work? The Glasgow University team’s idea is a project dubbed “Solar Soldier”. The system’s innovative combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, thermoelectric devices and leadingedge energy storage technology would provide a reliable power supply round-theclock, just like a normal battery pack. The team is also investigating ways of managing, storing and utilising heat produced by the system. Because it is much lighter, the system will improve soldiers’ mobility. Moreover, by eliminating the need to return to base regularly to recharge batteries, it will increase the potential range and duration of infantry

“Although substantial research into solar power for soldiers has already been conducted worldwide, this new UK project differs in its use of thermoelectric devices to complement solar cells, delivering genuine 24/7 power generation capability. The project team is also investigating how both types of device could actually be woven into soldiers’ battle dress, which has never been done before. During the day, the solar cells will produce electricity to power equipment. During the night, the thermoelectric devices will take over and perform the same function.” The research goal of the team is (i) to produce nanostructured PV and thermoelectric films on conventional rigid substrates (i.e. underlying layers) separately and then together, and (ii) to repeat the process using flexible substrates. The resulting flexible hybrid power generation devices would be unique and could even be coloured to camouflage them.

The Swiss Army Tackles Merging Legacy Systems with Modern to Optimum Effect The Swiss Army has a similar goal keeping the soldier’s weight burden down, but by merging legacy systems and off-the-shelf products they also seek to limit costs. Dr. Philippe WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 9


A typical infantry battalion spends more than $150,000 on batteries alone each year – the second highest expense next to munitions.

Schmid from armasuisse, Project Manager IMESS (Integriertes Modulares Einsatzsystem Schweizer Soldat), explained that the IMESS programme has grouped the system’s weight budget into three broad areas; legacy “regular” capabilities to which a core IMESS “must have” capability will be added, namely the C4I element with a further grouping of three specific areas covering load carriage and a protection systems, sustainability equipment and optronics.10 In the trials, eight battery types were used; four rechargeable batteries powering the core systems, video sight, night vision goggles and Personal Digital Assistant with primary cells being used in the hand grip, holographic sight, laser pointer and digital camera. Schmid said: “That is the price you pay when you have COTS/MOTS (Commercial off the shelf/Military off the shelf) components, it is difficult to tell manufacturers that they now have to use the same battery. That may require customisation and that is expensive.”

The Italian Army’s Soldato Futuro The Italian Future Soldier programme known as “Soldato Futuro” was developed by a team of five companies led by Selex Communications, Selex Galileo and Larimart (both part of Finmeccanica as the prime contractor), Beretta and Aero Sekur. The C4I component is powered by a lithium battery pack, which fits into the load-carrying vest. While this power package is able to supply ICWS, GLFCS and UAB, they also have their own standalone power supply. The system can also be plugged into the VBM power and data nets. Furthermore, a wheeled case will be provided in order to transport and store the equipment. This case is also designed to allow the system to be plugged into both power and data nets, enabling the system to be ready to use (battery charged and mission data loaded) without having to take it out of the protective case.11

The Romanian Army has Issues with Access to Batteries and Body Armour The Romanian Infantry Fighting System (RIFS) operational requirements, according to Major Tiberius Tomoiaga, RIFS Programme Manager, Military Equipment and Technologies Research Agency, are going forward in association with European Defence Agency’s (EDA) work on soldier modernization. The body armour needs to be adapted to protect the power systems but also allow access to utilize equipment. Major Tomoiaga said: 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

The EnerSys® Hawker® Mil PC1500 Group 34/78 AGM battery

“The batteries need to be changed very quickly but at the same time they need to be protected. We know what happens when a bullet hits a battery. If it doesn’t explode, it gets very hot. It’s another challenge.”

Sagem’s New Power Systems give France’s FELIN Elan Philippe Riouffret is Programme Head for FELIN (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés) at Sagem Defence and Security, part of the Safran Group. Sagem’s work on FELIN has helped develop a vehicle digitization solution. The approach also includes a flexible means of power resupply. “Each warrior has four batteries for 24 hours and the batteries can be refueled in vehicles. The user has options: he can switch his systems on the vehicle, directly connect to the vehicle or he can put his battery in the specific charger, which is in the vehicle. After that, you can take the battery charger out of the vehicle and connect them to the electrical net of the country you are in. In operations where you don’t have any electric grid, you will have more batteries so the technique used is down to the specifics of the mission.” “What is important is that all our equipment connects to the central power source of the system on the body in the smart vest. All the equipment is fed by this power – sights, goggles, radio all the equipment and you can have. They are also fitted with specific batteries to be independent.”12

Spain’s COMFUT (COMbatiente FUTuro) Addresses the Issue of Working with Primary and Re-Chargeable Batteries The Spanish Ministry of Defence is working to achieve longer lasting lighter power supply for equipment. Addressing the issue of


fuel-cell technology, Martin-Nieto, who works for the Ministry of Defence’s Procurement Office (Dirección General de Armamento y Material), explained: “We have used specific prototypes, but not as the main source of power; only as an alternative source. Every single soldier will have fuel cells to recharge their own batteries, or to directly feed the system in case of need, for instance. The main power source are batteries but what happens if you are in the desert for ten days? You can then disconnect your batteries and replace them with fuel cells as an alternative.”13 This system also integrates the main weapon system the rifle: Batteries on weapons are also rechargeable by fuel cell. While these batteries are different, they have the same connectors and charger as the main power supply subsystems and can also use fuel cells to recharge.

Unburdening the Soldier Through Innovation The US Army Research Laboratory in Maryland has been working on a collaborative approach to solve some of specialized military requirements for portable power supply. In 2011 cost issues are to the fore. A typical infantry battalion spends more than $150,000 on batteries alone each year – the second highest expense next to munitions. Battery weight is a fifth of the total weight a soldier typically carries in theater. Dr. Ed Shaffer, chief of ARL’s Energy and Power Division stated: “The Army needs better battery technology to meet the high energy demand and address the need for Soldier-wearable power solutions as well as technology that provide auxiliary power for on-board vehicles and supply power to unmanned air and ground vehicles, and unattended sensors.”



The Future Technology Challenge Meredith LLewelyn, Lead Contributor

Another aspect that challenges research is the complicating factor of the use of rechargeable batteries while training and primary batteries during operational missions.

The challenge to the technology researchers in the field of military applications of portable power is significant. First, in the United States and elsewhere there is the issue of financial support from government. Some in the United States are arguing that this research area should not be funded by the American government because research in the commercial and industrial field will produce spin-offs relevant to the military: for example, the rapid development of batteries for the tablet/iPad computer and smartphone. There is also the issue of duplicative research:14 “The argument that the military has a unique need for batteries that operate at a low temperature does not seem to be valid, since outdoor usage of portable electronic equipment in various industries exposes equipment to low temperatures and other harsh conditions.” The plastic lithium ion battery (not to be confused with the conventional liquid lithium ion battery used in notebook computers) was developed with military funding (Sewell, 1996). This battery does have some features that are attractive for military applications, including greater safety (some types of high energy density batteries can catch on fire when punctured) and the ability to mold the battery into virtually any shape. However, there are also commercial battery applications with similar requirements. For example, safe high energy density batteries are important for future automotive applications because of the potential for battery ruptures in a collision.

Power Management Importance Another aspect that challenges research is the complicating factor of the use of re-chargeable batteries while training and primary batteries during operational missions. The United States Army has ruled on this issue and, despite the cost benefits of using re-chargeable batteries during training, has decided to stick by the “we train, as we fight” principle. However, there has been a debate about the cost savings of re-chargeables and efforts are being made to reduce power consumption by requiring “sleep” 12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

The ModEnergy Lithium-ion PNU200 micro-grid energy storage unit

modes for equipment and asking manufacturers to work towards less power hungry equipment.15

Sustainable Power Options: Solar and Bio Energy The US Army is working with innovative solutions. One of them is the REPPS system, (the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System) complete with solar panels for increased charging options which is destined for use in Afghanistan. The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s (CERDEC) Army Power Division confirmed that the center has received positive feedback from soldiers in the field. Rafael Casanova, CERDEC battery team leader for the REPPS system said: “They like to be able to recharge batteries right there where they are located,” CERDEC is also looking into a biological battery that uses sucrose as an electrolyte to power systems, and has tested fuel cell programs that can be used for recharging batteries and powering rechargeable battery stations.16 This has resonance with the research by CFD Research Corporation17, which is developing a novel power source that converts commonly available sugars directly into electrical energy. The Bio-Battery uses enzymes to convert the sugar into energy similar to the way biological systems use enzymes to convert food into energy. The heart of the device is


One of the best lightweight soldier technologies – the ABSL smart portable charger

a nano composite anode, which contains enzymes capable of oxidizing glucose and other sugars, releasing electrons and generating energy. The US Army Research Laboratory also advanced other research areas with potential value to manufacturers. One is a neat chemical drop-in addition to increase the potential voltage of a lithium-ion battery from 3-4volts up to 5. ARL researchers Dr. Kang Xu and Dr. Arthur von Wald Cresce have developed an electrolyte additive that enables Li-ion batteries to operate at 5 volts. Karen Laforme, an ARL program integrator, stated:18 “The invented additive not only allows for higher voltage and the concomitant higher energy density, but also offers stability and long cycle life. Moreover, it is essentially a drop-in technology that can be easily adopted by battery manufacturers,”

The View Over the Horizon These are some relatively recent example of new technologies being tested and developed to confront the problems of the limitations of primary batteries. There are other new technologies still at the research stage like polymer electrolyte membrane (fuel cells). There are also developments in materials science to enhance the structure of silicon. For example, Nexeon’s patented silicon structures seek to overcome the problems of poor cycle life encountered when using silicon by mitigating the volume expansion issue. These uniquely structured silicon anode materials are intended to deliver extended cycle life without degradation of capacity.19 WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


References: 1

T Battery Operated Devices and Systems: from Portable Electronics to Industrial Products – Gianfranco Pistoia 2009 Elsevier


Ibid p258


Ibid Pistoia


Ibid Pistoia












Emerging Commercial Mobile Wireless Technology and Standards Suitable for the Army? Phillip M Feldman


Energy Independence: Using Rechargeable Batteries in the Future Battlespace by Thomas J. Nycz


Dynamixx E2D tp://




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