For most, the term military technology conjures visions of missiles, jet fighters, guns and men in fatigue. So, who would have thought that our nations’ defenders were doing all they could to embrace green innovations and concepts? But, maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising; after all, the military needs to be adaptable since the present state of the earth isn’t one of abundance, it needs to find novel ways of coming up with means by which to survive.
Army makes electricity from garbage
The US military’s headquarters in Iraq is generating its own electricity through biogas by making use of ammo wrappers, shredded documents and other leftovers. The machine is called TGER or Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery, which breaks down the stuff fed into it and heats it till it turns into synthetic gas. It is then mixed with ethanol produced from fermenting foods and liquids and the resulting fuel is used to power generators.
Solar powered army bases
The United States military has set up solar plants in various bases, including the Nevada Nellis Air Force base with another one in the works for Fort Irwin in California’s Mojave Desert. While the former’s PV installation is of 14MW and fulfills half of the base’s energy needs, the latter will see its installation generating 500MW, enough to meet the requirements of the base as well as sell it to the private sector.
M-25 portable fuel cell for battle gear
Soldiers need all the energy they can get especially during long missions. As such, the M-25 portable fuel cell will greatly benefit them by powering batteries operating battle gear for up to 72 hours. While still in the testing stage, the fuel cell will provide 25W of energy – with a capacity of peaking at 80W – from 300ml ethanol cartridges. The best part? M-25 will weigh just two pounds, 80 percent lighter than conventional power sources being used.
Soldiers may soon become solar energy generators if project ‘Solar Soldiers’ of the United Kingdom is successful. Scientists are currently trying to design a suit that will be able to store solar energy and convert it into power. Since soldiers carry heavy battery packs and need them to charge certain gear, the solar suit will prove to be a boon as they will have a constant supply of power. Additionally, thermoelectricity is also being researched as a possible renewable power source.
Eco-friendly bullets by BAE Systems
Bullets are meant to kill but if BAE Systems has its way, they won’t pose any damage to the environment. The weapons manufacturer is looking to produce lead free bullets that won’t harm the environment and pose health risks to soldiers in the battlefield. While the company hasn’t yet come up with lead free bullets, it has developed those with reduced toxicity levels.
Air Force and Navy turn to biofuels
We know that airplanes, especially jet fighters, consume large amount of fuel. But, since we can’t cease using them, the US Air Force and Navy have come up with a solution to operate them using jet biofuel. The two have been testing their aircrafts by running them on biofuel with the Air Force already approving F-15 and F-16 fighters and C-17 transport planes to utilize 50 percent biofuel. The Navy, meanwhile, is looking to approve all its aircraft and surface ships to operate on sustainable energy by the fall of 2012.
Navy robots clear barnacles, reduce fuel consumption
In an effort to reduce fuel consumption prompted by extra drag caused by barnacles and biofilms, the US Navy is making use of a new robot called Hull BUG, which will clean the ships. The autonomous robot is able to sense when a ship needs to be cleaned of barnacles and biofilms and does its duty to reduce drag caused by these creatures and decreases subsequent fuel consumption.
US Army testing host of solar powered shades and tents
Soldiers spend a lot of time camping outdoors in remote areas, where conventional power sources don’t exist. Since batteries tend to wear out, the US Army is testing flexible and portable solar powered shades and tents. Flexible PV panels will help the tents harness sunlight, which can then be converted into renewable power to run computers and night vision goggles.
German super stealth submarine powered by hydrogen fuel cell
German engineering rears its head, this time to create a stealth submarine called U212A that runs via a hydrogen fuel cell. Since it does away with other power sources like diesel, electricity and nuclear energy, the sub is able to stay underwater for a longer period of time. The hydrogen engine also enables the craft to remain silent, stealthy and free of body heat.
Bridge for army made of recycled plastic bottles
The US Army has built a bridge out of recycled plastic bottles, the first of its kind in the world. High strength thermoplastic processed from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles was used to construct the bridge, which is corrosion resistance and requires low maintenance. And if you think such a bridge would be fragile, think again: it can support a weight of a staggering 70 tons.