BAE Systems has developed and demonstrated an alternative to standard batteries which could lighten the load of dismounted soldiers’ rucksacks containing electronic items.
The technology was successfully demonstrated in a high-tech micro unmanned air vehicle (UAV) and a rudimentary torch, highlighting its potential use in other military devices.
The newly developed structural batteries can help reduce the weight carried by troops as electrical energy is stored within the physical structure of equipment, instead of in traditional batteries, which create weight and bulk, as well as the burden and cost of carrying spares.
The technology has been developed by merging battery chemistries into composite materials that can be moulded into complex 3D shapes to form the structure of the device itself.
According to Bae, the device can be recharged using rational or renewable power sources including solar energy and can be used in anything that requires electricity from small gadgets to entire vehicles.
Of the new technology, BAE Systems capability technology leader for materials, Alex Parfitt, said: "It can, not only, support soldiers on the frontline, but also revolutionise technology in the consumer market by allowing more efficient, elegant and lighter designs."
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is believed to have shown an interest in the batteries for use by British troops, which currently use nickel, a common material in military gear as it is known for its longevity and durability.
However, BAE hopes to include lithium ion and lithium polymer technologies in future designs that are common in consumer gadgets including mobile phones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets and portable games.
BAE is currently working to increase the batteries’ power density and has set out a number of futuristic applications such as tents with their own power supply.