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U.S. Army aims for more energy-efficient base camps

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June 29, 2011

The Base Camp System Integration Laboratory, or SIL, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts (Image:...

The Base Camp System Integration Laboratory, or SIL, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts (Image: PM Force Sustainment Systems, PEO CSCSS)

The U.S. Army has opened a System Integration Laboratory (SIL) at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, modeled after forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to test technologies aimed at creating more energy-efficient base camps. The various energy-efficient technologies being tested are expected to reduce base camp fuel requirements by 20 percent or more and water demand by up to 75 percent.

The 10-acre SIL will be broken into two side-by-side sections, each occupied by 150 active-component and reserve component soldiers for periods of a few weeks or months at a time. One section acting as a control group will shadow standard expeditionary bases, while the second will act as a test group, carrying out almost identical operations as the first, but while integrating new technologies to allow for the collection of real-time data.

Technologies being examined include energy-efficient shelters and water-filtration and reuse systems, while planning is also underway to look at alternative energy sources including wind and solar power. As data is collected, information from the components and systems of each group will be compared to measure the effectiveness of the various technologies.

Officials say that once the effectiveness of the technologies is proven, the SIL will share them with currently deployed and future expeditionary forces so they can be implemented.

"The Army is focused on five goals," says Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, "reducing energy consumption, increasing energy efficiency across platforms and facilities, increasing our use of renewable and alternative energy; assuring access to sufficient energy supplies today and in the future, and reducing adverse impacts on the environment. The SIL will give us the data we need to deploy solutions in a cost-effective manner."

While parts of the project have been running since the SIL opened on June 24, 2011, it isn't expected to be fully operational until August 1, 2011.

"We're seeing promising results from the micro-grid already," said Lt. Col. Daryl Harger, product manager, Force Sustainment Systems. "We're excited about the technology, but we also want to take a structured approach and make sure the results we get are valuable and true."

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
6 Comments

This is a great step in the right direction! I heard thje other day on NPR that "we spent 20.2 Billion Dollars on air conditioning in Iraq and Afganistan" according to Steven Anderson a retired brigadier general.

REF: http://n.pr/mRJhQF

Zaako
29th June, 2011 @ 07:57 am PDT

I wonder if urine could be recycled too!

Ken Heslip
29th June, 2011 @ 10:43 am PDT

Just looking at those non-insulated tents make me think that a small layer of insulation would provide better cooling and warmth at night reducing costs. White is the best color for reflectivity -it's not like these are camouflaged. Also why are they not made to collect rain water off the buildings as most every place in the islands does already? Filter that.

Flexible solar sewn into the roof is available today. Is there a stream nearby-drop in some underwater turbines for added power. Wind regularly? Even boats have small ones for power and fuel cells are available for quiet generation if needed. Where is the greenhouse to grow some veggies instead of shipping in all that food?

zekegri
29th June, 2011 @ 10:58 am PDT

zekegri, Those tents are sand colored because they are mostly currently .deployed sitting on....you guessed it, SAND! You don't know if those tents are insulated or not. You can't tell from the picture. The tents are not designed to collect rain water because where they are deployed is desert and does not have hardly any. Same thing about dropping a turbine in a nearby stream but you might try dropping one in a mirage of a stream! Wind and flexible solar panels might actually be a possibility but as far as growing their own veggies? These men and women are trained soldiers, not farmers! Something that might work is to buy veggies off local farmers but you would never know when they might be poisoned. Maybe they should best stick to what they are trained to do, get the job done, and get out of there?

Will, the tink
29th June, 2011 @ 06:00 pm PDT

I read somewhere one time that it is possible to re-drink urine up to about five (5) times before it becomes lethal. I'm not sure about the truth of the article though, especially since it has been better than twenty years ago.

On the other hand maybe run it through a solar still and get purified water out and dump the urea crystals that are left.

JMOdom
29th June, 2011 @ 06:57 pm PDT

Obviously insulating the tents would be a good start. So would having Anaerobic Digestion Tanks to both treat sewage, and produce methane fuel. Depending on the design they could be left to the indigenous people, (hearts and minds) or truck mounted for easy transport. it would also have the benefit of making the latrines smell better, and end the practice of mixing the waste with diesel fuel and burning it.

I prefer waterwheels to small turbines, both for reliability, and in low flow but high drop situations they can produce more power.

But I think the army would be better off investing in truck mounted thorium fueled nuclear reactors.

Slowburn
29th June, 2011 @ 06:58 pm PDT
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