US Army develops lighter batteries to reduce soldiers’ load

10 May 2012 (Last Updated May 10th, 2012 03:45)

The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) is developing a range of lightweight batteries and soldier wearable integrated power system (SWIPES) to improve manoeuvrability in the battlefield.

Christopher Hurley The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) is developing a range of lightweight batteries and soldier wearable integrated power system (SWIPES) to improve manoeuvrability in the battlefield.

Christopher Hurley, RDECOM Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) battery development projects team leader, said the team has reduced the size and weight of the standard BA-5590 battery by half, retaining the performance and run time.

"The soldier can still perform the same mission with half the weight and volume in batteries. It will lighten their load and increase their manoeuvrability, so they have more freedom to get around on the battlefield," Hurley said.

The reductions were obtained through improvements in the battery's materials and the new half-size BA-5590 batteries can still plug into the same equipment, including radios and robots, as the full-size version.

The service is currently developing battery chemistries from lithium-carbon monoflouride.

"All of the cabling is routed through the different pockets for radios and equipment. The idea is to have this battery power all of the equipment."

CERDEC is also collaborating with RDECOM's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop a 0.8in-thick polymer conformal battery, which can be placed into a soldier's vest instead of boxed-sized batteries.

Hurley said the same battery chemistries are being fed into polymer conformal battery to reduce projections from the soldiers' body in a prone position or tight spaces.

Another army innovation, SWIPES, supplies a main battery from a central location to power all end-items such as batteries, GPS units, shot-detection systems and handheld communications, eliminating the need for swapping batteries or power sources.

"All of the cabling is routed through the different pockets for radios and equipment. The idea is to have this battery power all of the equipment," Hurley added.

The batteries are expected to be used by soldiers in around a year and the Army rapid equipping force and project manager soldier warrior have started field testing several hundred SWIPES units.


Image: Christopher Hurley holds a polymer conformal battery while wearing SWIPES within a combat vest. Photo: courtesy of US Army.