Solar power systems could lighten the load for British solar soldiers

There is a two year solar soldier project in the UK

The system’s innovative combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells*, thermoelectric devices** and leading-edge energy storage technology will provide a reliable power supply round-the-clock, just like a normal battery pack. The team is also investigating ways of managing, storing and utilising heat produced by the system. The aim is to make the batteries and the PV-thermoelectric to have fifty per cent lighter than conventional chemical battery packs used by British infantry.

Wired UK – Not only will the reduced weight lead to improved mobility of the army’s troops, but infantry operations could be longer and wider-ranging because they won’t need to return to base for recharging. Also, because it will absorb energy across the electromagnetic spectrum, the thermoelectric devices will make soldiers less visible to night vision equipment that uses infrared technology.

“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.”

PV cells, thermoelectric devices and advanced energy storage devices are already widely used in a range of applications. A key aim of the project team, however, is to produce robust, hard-wearing designs specifically for military use in tough, hostile conditions.

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