July 22, 2011

ONR TechSolutions Program Lightens Burden for Navy’s EOD Teams

Designed to cut the 50 pounds of battery devices hauled by the Navy's explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams, the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) TechSolutions Program has developed a lightweight power system, which was delivered July 22.

Responding to a request from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit (EODTEU) 2 to create a lightweight power device to charge their specialized equipment, TechSolutions partnered with Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Ind., and Protonex Technology Corp. to develop the Power Management Kit (PMK) and shipped five units to the team for a trial.

"The PMK gives the warfighter a very significant weight reduction in batteries, chargers and adapters, while also increasing real-time awareness of power usage and availability," said Phil Robinson, Protonex's vice president and ONR's principal investigator for the PMK project.

The kit is a lightweight, portable system containing common military rechargeable batteries, a solar-powered blanket, a 1-pound Soldier Power Manager (SPM) unit and "smart" cables to link the SPM with EOD equipment. The PMK is centered around the SPM, which can harness energy from a variety of sources to charge batteries and provide power to attached gear. Any new equipment added to the EOD team's arsenal can be supported by merely providing a new cable. Therefore, the SPM itself never requires an upgrade.

By enabling teams to use alternative energy sources, such as a solar cell-covered blankets and fuel cells, the PMK reduces the team's logistics footprint. Few of the Navy's EOD teams' primary tools and equipment use the same power sources, so Sailors and Marines must carry multiple single-purpose batteries to power their gear.

"Currently, if one were to collect all the battery chargers allocated to an EOD platoon, they would fill a 4-foot by 4-foot table," according to EODTEU 2 Combat Development staff. "The PMK, with all of its cables, and the SPM in a soft roll case weigh only 9 pounds, replacing up to 50 pounds of specialized chargers and related equipment."

A graphical interface displays information about batteries and sources, power usage, state of charge and operational details. This data is stored and analyzed, providing EOD teams with unprecedented visibility, safety, situational awareness and readiness when planning future missions.

TechSolutions accepts recommendations and suggestions from Navy and Marine Corps personnel on ways to improve mission effectiveness through the application of new technology. The TechSolutions team provides Sailors and Marines with prototype technologies to rapidly address immediate needs. TechSolutions works closely with the fleet and force to meet specific requirements that cannot be readily satisfied with commercial off-the-shelf technologies. Typical turn-around time for a working prototype is 12-18 months.


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