The U.S. Army has chosen advanced lead battery energy storage systems to enhance its operational effectiveness in disaster zones and in combat.
A project led by Paragon Solutions, Inc., and the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) is providing a new set of systems that can provide power for critical military operations anywhere in the world.
Paragon, a woman-owned engineering firm, and a member of the Consortium for Energy, Environment, and Demilitarization (CEED), partnered with CBI, a global lead battery research hub, to develop the winning proposal in response to a request issued to CEED members by the Consortium Management Group (CMG). The effort is sponsored by the U.S. Government under an Other Transaction Agreement between CMG and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.*
Paragon and CBI will develop transportable, robust, lead battery energy storage systems that can be integrated into tactical microgrids and demonstrated at the Contingency Basing Integration Training Evaluation Center (CBITEC) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The CBITEC site is managed by the U.S Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL).
The eighteen-month $3.5 million program also seeks to demonstrate how U.S. Army units can use lead batteries sourced from the Department of Defense supply system and from locally available sources such as vehicles, while increasing the lifecycle for certain battery types to meet battlefield energy demands.
Retired U.S. Army Captain and government technical lead for this project, Tom Decker, said: “This is an important project to the Army because in any type of contingency environment, while in combat situations or following a natural disaster, it all falls back on the Army Corps of Engineers to provide power to continue operations. And this is where lead batteries come in.”
“By being able to use lead batteries that are available on the ground and make an energy resource out of them, we have the ability to continue whatever mission we’re on, be it disaster relief or engaging in combat.”
“This just adds to our capabilities. The durability of lead batteries has been proven over many decades so we know what we’re getting when we use the technology. But then we get the added value of the advanced lead battery systems which the industry supplies, and this is the technology that makes the systems viable.”
“Lead batteries give us the ability to deploy energy storage systems anywhere in the world, enhancing our resiliency. And one of the current US administration’s priorities is reducing carbon footprint, so by decreasing our use of fuel and adopting more innovative energy storage systems, we’re reducing our carbon footprint too.”
Implementation of the systems will be done to NATO specifications, and if successful, would allow for deployment in many different countries. This solution aims to overcome issues with host nation power grids by designing an energy storage system that accepts host nation power, stores it, and then provides it in a form that is compatible with U.S. Army equipment.
The resiliency, safety and reliability of power supplies are priorities for military operations. Lead batteries have been chosen for the project as the technology of choice because of their inherent safety and robustness in extreme weather as well as their availability in the field. Using lead batteries would provide Army Commanders with local sources of batteries in vehicles and telecommunications towers around the world.
The Paragon/CBI team will develop energy storage systems providing between 125kWh to 250kWh of critical energy using three different lead battery technologies provided by US-based battery manufacturers, Advanced Battery Concepts (ABC), East Penn Manufacturing and EnerSys. These operational workhorses will be transportable, easy to operate by military personnel, and can be integrated into tactical microgrids to provide power for critical loads.
The project team will also develop a ‘plug-and-play’ 30 kWh energy storage system, which will give soldiers the ability to plug into an energy storage source made up of used lead batteries found in locally available sources, such as vehicles. Marcus Ferguson, ERDC-CERL project officer, and manager of the CBITEC site said: “After Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, approximately 130,000 damaged vehicles were lying unused with an untapped energy source: lead batteries. If this energy could be harvested, future disaster relief and other military operations, wherever they are in the world, could be provided with reliable, low-cost energy”.
The prototype lead battery energy storage systems will be constructed and tested in various simulated duty cycles to recreate typical field conditions for military operations. The aim is to develop systems that could be rolled out across the U.S. Army. Furthermore, when the lead battery ESS prototypes are connected to Army tactical quiet generators (TQGs) the systems will provide low heat signature and quiet energy assets - essential requirements for U.S. Army activities in the field.
Dr. Matt Raiford, CBI project manager, added: “Lead batteries have been chosen for this important project based on their resilience, consistent performance at all temperatures and their accessibility. This will set a benchmark for smaller microgrids providing essential power and security in a range of settings from remote rural areas to larger military installations.”
Raiford continued: “CBI is committed to developing advanced lead batteries for energy storage applications and the recognition that this mainstay technology has been chosen to support U.S. Army operations is testament to the inherent safety, reliability and sustainability of the technology.”
*Effort sponsored by the U.S. Government under Other Transaction number W9132T209D001 between the Consortium Management Group, Inc., and the Government. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon.
The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Government.
Notes to editors:
1: For more information please contact Hywel Jarman in the CBI media office on +44 7718 483887. Visit www.batteryinnovation.org.