In a network centric environment, where
communications (and transmission) of data at high capacity are
required, power requirements for portable and mobile electronics
is outgrowing existing power sources capacity, leading to a
shorter service per battery.
Therefore, using regenerable power is becoming
critical for military planning.
The use of rechargeable technology has many
benefits for military users, especially in cost saving and
logistics. However, rechargeable
Ni-Cd batteries have high
specific weight, low energy density (NiMH)
and limited capability in low or high temperatures, when compared
to primary technology, and therefore, were used mainly for
training. Recent technologies made significant improvements in
and reduction of total cell weight, especially with
the introduction of lithium-ion
and Lithium ion polymer
The British Army
is currently fielding a new range of rechargeable power sources
for its Bowman battlefield communications system, the next
generation communications system for the UK military. The new
Lithium Ion batteries will replace Ni-Cd cells used in the current
Clansman systems. The new batteries will power portable radios,
handheld computers, Global Positioning Systems and encryption
devices. The US Army is also moving some units to use rechargeable
batteries. For example,
Units in Afghanistan are now using only rechargeable batteries
such as BB 2590.
The British Army is currently fielding a new range
of rechargeable Li-ion
batteries, replacing older and heavier Ni-Cd cells. The
lightweight batteries offer much improved operation in extreme
temperatures, with a range of -51C to +75C degrees. The
temperature performance of the Cell will end the practice of
"shirt stuffing" whereby the existing Ni-Cd battery is carried
next to the skin in an attempt to keep it warm. Extended
operational life and lower weight also improve the soldier's load
factor. A typical 6 man patrol will have full control over its
battery resources, and be able reduce its attributable battery
weight load from 14kg to less than 3kg - giving advantages in both
mobility and capacity for other equipment.
When properly implemented, self charging of
batteries enable re-use of inventory and reduced burden on the
supply channels. In the absence of electric power, charging can be
done through solar power, windmills and hand-crank generators and
fuel cells. Future recharging technologies are also in
development, utilizing photo-voltaic and kinetic power sources.
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