The Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) is helping advance an innovative power generation and harvesting system, as part of the Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Program. The Flexible Integrated Energy Device (FIED) would see dismounted Australian Defence Force soldiers power electronic systems from a body mounted vibration energy harvesting unit, and a world first flexible hybrid lithium battery.
The FIED uses a transducer to harvest mechanical energy from the soldier's motion and converts this to useful electrical energy through conditioning that optimizes conversion efficiency. The textile based asymmetric super-capacitor enables both rapid and high energy storage and power flow from a soft and flexible garment component. A number of 'plug-in' points distributed throughout the FIED garment allow the soldier to connect devices for use in the field of battle as required.
DSTO researcher Dr Vinod Puri says DSTO initiated the concept with CSIRO's Energy and Technology Division more than three years ago, 'to help improve power systems that had limited operating life and impeded a soldier's mobility.' Australian field trials in early 2010 proved the system's ability to harvest energy from motion and researchers claim they can now generate about 87 milliwatts per kilogram of force. They hope to increase that scale to around 200 milliwatts per kilogram, which would provide enough power to generate a soldier's personal communication devices in the field for a typical 72 hour rotation.
The new flexible batteries are vigorously tested for robustness (up to 2,400 flexes) and duration (charge and discharge cycle), to provide an optimum, novel alternative to current power harvesting.
"This form of battery technology is the first of its kind. The flexible batteries can be scaled in size to provide 100wh/kg," Dr Puri says. The CTD Program aims to improve priority Defence capabilities. It provides Australian and New Zealand industry and research organizations with an opportunity to demonstrate their technology and allows Defence to assess its potential and associated risks.
The Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) is part of Australia's Department of Defence. DSTO's role is to ensure the expert, impartial and innovative application of science and technology to the defence of Australia and its national interests.
Source and image: Defence Science and Technology Organization