Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are working to develop energy-harvesting technology solutions in the form of wearable devices. The use of such devices in a remote military situation could significantly reduce the weight of gear and provide portable accessibility to power.
The technologies included wearable solar panels as well as backpack and knee kinetic, energy-harvesting devices to reduce weight and the quantity of batteries soldiers required to power their devices. The solar panels are located on the backpack and helmet. They are constructed from thin gallium arsenide crystals and can deliver a combined 17 watts. Kinetic energy is also captured from the backpack’s oscillation device, generating anywhere from 16 to 40 watts dependent on speed. An articulating knee device also capitalizes on this technology by recovering kinetic energy during the actions of flex and rest changing knee positions.
Once these technologies have been further validated the next step will be to sync the energy-harvesting wearable devices with the Integrated Soldier Power Data System to distribute energy to a soldier’s device. These new concepts demonstrate the use of energy-harvesting devices in tactical field environments.
“My initial impression is that they fulfill a need for instant power generation on long-range missions when displaced from traditional resupply methods.”