News: Marines test new energy-harvesting gear
Story by Lance Cpl. Kathy Nunez
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The Marine Corps recently launched the Experimental Forward Operating Base ’14, a weeklong demonstration of the Corps’ potential new and upcoming equipment, here May 12-16.
The ExFOB is part of Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos’ Expeditionary Energy Strategy that was released in 2011.
“In that strategy, he set a pretty aggressive goal,” said Katie Hanston, Program Analyst with the Expeditionary Energy Office. “By 2025, Marines will be able to maneuver from the sea, conduct distributive operations, and the only fuel they would need is for vehicles.”
To achieve that goal, the Marine Corps is looking for ways to equip Marines with technology to reduce energy usage. Examples of waste energy include the exhaust or heat from a generator or a vehicle engine, kinetic energy from an individual, and solar power.
“We’re trying to broaden the capabilities of the individual Marine,” said Maj. Anthony McNair, Requirement and Technology Analyst from Headquarters Marine Corps Expeditionary Office. “The individual’s combat load has almost doubled over the last 13 years. They carry more batteries, more water, and more armor.“
With the new tactical energy harvesting technologies, there would be less battery weight, allowing Marine’s to extend their operational reach.
“One example is a knee brace that generates power just from the movement of a Marine walking around on patrol,” Hanston said. “That knee brace sends a trickle charge to his radio, and all of a sudden he doesn’t have to carry around four batteries for that radio.”
Throughout the week, Marines are testing and evaluating equipment as a part of the Marine Corps’ research about reducing battlefield energy and water requirements. A team of engineers analyze the data that is gathered through wiring systems hooked up to participants.
“All that data will be wrapped into a report and presented to the Executive Integrative Process team who will look at the results and figure out which technologies we should pursue,” Hanston said.
Along with the data collection, Marines are given the opportunity to give their honest opinions through a survey.
“Their input is invaluable,” McNair said. “They’re the ones who will end up using these systems. If they provide us feedback now, then they can impact the acquisition process.”
The equipment evaluations and the Marine’s surveys are only the beginning of the process to find what best fits the Marine Corps and it’s needs.
“This is our first taste,” Hanston said. “Nothing that’s here is going to be something that the Marine Corps will buy today. The idea is to see the possibility. ExFOB brings technologies from early concepts to fielding.”