News: Expeditionary combat outpost conserves resources
Story by Sgt. Janelle Dean
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. - From the outside, the 16 modules painted traditional Army green look identical and rather ordinary, but they can be defined as green by a lot more than their paint. They are part of the energy efficient 100-man camp, also called the expeditionary combat outpost, and are designed to accommodate up to 100 personnel while offering considerable savings on logistical and energy needs.
For the past three weeks, the ExCOP has been home to soldiers of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, during the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 13.2 here. The platform is currently under test by the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, which provides current and emerging technological solutions to meet the required capabilities of U.S. Army forces employed globally.
“The ExCOP enhances a unit's mobility by providing sling loadable, forklift loadable, and sea shippable containers that can be expanded into operational configuration in less than 30 minutes each,” explained Kerry Robinson, a REF program analyst. “The ExCOP enhances the soldiers’ quality of life by providing an environmentally controlled command post, [administrative] shelter, billeting, hygiene stations and kitchen.”
Basically, it’s an entire combat outpost in a box, or rather, a series of boxes.
Fully assembled, the shelters measure 16 feet wide by 20 feet long and come equipped with necessary equipment unique to the specific shelter’s purpose. When collapsed, they shrink to four feet wide by 20 feet long, and the equipment is folded and shipped with the unit.
For example, the two hygiene shelters each have five shower stalls with low flow heads, five low water usage toilets, sinks and two washer/dryer combination units. Significant water savings are due in part to the shower water reuse system that recycles approximately 80 percent of the shower water consumed and purifies it through a reverse osmosis system, resulting in a quality product water that meets the Surgeon General’s standard.
“The system over a three-week period has reclaimed 3,300 gallons of water that normally would be sent out to a gray water or black water system that would not be used again,” said Nicholas Kalinowski, an electrical engineer with the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity. “That has saved two-to-three tanker trucks full of water from coming out here.”
“Overall, the entire thing and its use is paramount for out in the middle of nowhere when you sometimes have to go weeks to months without proper hygiene,” said Spc. James Goff, an infantryman assigned to HHC.
Aside from the water savings, it offers substantial fuel savings as well.
Many tactical outposts rely heavily on generators for power: generators that often run for long periods of time and consume large quantities of fuel. The ExCOP, however, operates on limited generator use.
“In terms of power consumption, instead of using one generator for every three-to-four shelters, we have 16 shelters running on two-to-three generators,” said Kalinowski, gesturing towards a ring of generators centrally located in the camp.
The ExCOP uses six 30-kilowatt generators, but not all of them run simultaneously. It runs on a load demand start/stop system that also monitors the camp’s power requirements and powers the generators on and off accordingly.
“It allows [for] the shutdown of under-utilized generator sets resulting in a significant fuel savings,” explained Robinson.
The conservation of energy doesn’t limit the amount of power the system can produce during high demand times, since for soldiers on a modern battlefield, power is often a necessity.
“Soldiers are definitely more technologically capable from the ability to charge and power individual soldier systems such as radios and computers,” said Robinson, speaking of the electrical and USB power outlets installed in the modules.
Designed for use in all manner of rugged environments, the ExCOP is also capable of maintaining soldier comforts with HVAC energy recovery units capable of maintaining set temperatures in climates ranging from -25 F – 130 F and insulation built into the modules to minimize energy loss.
“The shelters themselves are equipped with thermal breaks in each of the sections that prevents the transfer of external heat and cold to the inside of the shelters,” said Robinson.
While the ExCOP is designed to be energy efficient, AMSAA has spent the three-week field trial at NIE 13.2 collecting data on just how efficient it really is and if additional improvements can be made to further conserve energy and logistical resources.
In addition to undergoing evaluation during NIE 13.2, the ExCOP is also under test at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at Fort Benning, Ga.