Do more with less: NIE 13.1 explores smart energy use
November 7, 2012
By Sgt. Ida Irby
MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. - NIE 13.1 tests systems in austere tactical environments to gain knowledge of soldier usage of energy efficient equipment that increases self-sustaining ability of the war-fighter.
Power generation will always be a struggle in the Army because loads, amperages, and redundant power sources keep us working to find better solutions for energy. All the new equipment used in NIE 13.1 is checked for compatibility with our current systems or redeveloped for value-added usage, stated Sgt. 1st Class William Lawrence, a system manager Brigade Modernization Command.
After evaluation, systems are labeled as having high, medium, or low potential for equipping.
Lawrence oversaw four 60k fuel-powered generators equipped with the latest Load Demand Start Stop Micro-Grid Systems, used to eliminate over usage of generators by terminating power when there is no request for energy. This will ensure units are not wasting fuel and more personnel can be used to support the mission.
"The LDSS sends an accurate signal to the [generator's] system to terminate usage which in turn reduces the fuel consumption and reduces wear and tear on the equipment," said Lawrence, a native of Barron, Wis. "LDSS systems may reduce maintenance on generators and lower operational costs compared to existing equipment."
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, is working to make field operations more self-sufficient and working to find better solutions for energy consumption.
Sgt. Justin L. Farmer, a training noncommissioned officer in 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, uses a 60kW quiet tactical generator to power laptops, lights, and communication tools while in a tactical environment. Customarily, power is drawn from generators that run 24 hours a day. According to Farmer, the GenSet Eliminator being tested may decrease generators usage by half - charging the generator for only 12 hours and operating for extended 12 hours without fuel.
"The GenSet Eliminator uses lithium-ion batteries or solar powered energy to store up to 50kW of energy. After it's fully charged, it stores energy and we can turn off the generator and run it with stored energy," said Farmer. "This latest system saves fuel and makes energy usage more tactical by minimizing generator operating time."
Solar powered generators could eliminate or minimize manpower, equipment, or fuel costs up to 40 percent, stated Farmer, a native of Lawrenceville, Ga.
"By running a generator half the time, it is definitely good for the environment," said Farmer. "We minimize the use of fuel, maintenance cost and exhaust emissions."
For some areas in the Army, less is more. Using less resources in a tactical environment allows for more sustainability and minimizes visibility in a field setting.
"The Army is working to improving operational costs by using less generators to generate more energy," said Robinson, a native of Baltimore, Va. "If we use fewer generators, we will use less fuel, and require less manpower to maintain generators."
"We need to use less - to do more. Operational energy works to reduce the footprint of a brigade, battalion or company element," said Maj. Duncan S. Robinson, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va., looking at the footprint for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, where more than 50 generators are used to maintain operations during NIE 13.1.
NIE 13.1 is critical to accomplishing the future missions of the Army. Today, soldiers work to make warfighters more self-sustaining, save money for taxpayers, and shift resources to other mission essential priorities.
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