Wearable solar-cell technology to power Soldier Integrated Power System (SIPS)
As a relief from heavy batteries that the soldiers carry with them in the battlefield, new wearable solar technology has come a step closer to reality. The Australian Nation University (ANU) has developed a wearable solar-cell technology that will enable power generation possible to juice up Soldier Integrated Power System (SIPS).
Army’s communication devices including many other electronic types of equipment rely on batteries for energy source, and the soldiers have to carry heavy packs of batteries while they are in the field. The communication and co-ordination are interconnected. In a battlefield, a strategy is far more important than the ammunition itself. The soldier might need to spend weeks or months in the flied, and such a portable renewable energy technology would make sure the soldiers don’t get disconnected or their device like nigh vision equipments, GPS etc. are consistently supplied with power.
Project Development Manager, Dr Igor Skryabin, said:
Much of the equipment carried by Australian soldiers requires heavy battery packs, such as night-vision goggles, lights, GPS devices and communication systems. Currently, soldiers depend on conventional batteries to power these devices
ANU had collaborated with CSIRO and Techtonica Austraila to develop SIPS project. It was a $2.3 million contract under round 15 by the Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Program, which is managed by the Defence Science and Technology Organization. The technology has been successfully tested by soldiers, and it has done wonderful job in a 72-hour training mission.
Regarding the testing of the technology Dr Igor Skryabin said:
The trials were performed by soldiers in a real mission environment with normal usage of power. In overcast conditions the ANU flexible panels produced sufficient power to maintain battery charge. In sunny conditions the panels charged the batteries. Based on the success of this demonstration, ANU will be commercializing the project outcomes with industrial partners.
The biggest benefit was derived from Silver solar cell technology. The Director of the ANU Centre of Sustainable Energy Systems, Prof. Andrew Blakers claims that it would have not been possible to develop such an efficient, rugged, flexible and light weight portable module without these cells. The cells are very thin. The thickness doesn’t go beyond that of paper-sheet or a human hair with a energy to weight ratio of more than 200 watts per kilogram.