By David Crane
defrev at gmail dot com
January 13, 2009
A number of eco-friendly, green-technology websites have been reporting on aerospace juggernaught Lockheed Martin teaming up with energy storage tech startup EEStor to develop a tactical body armor system with integrated "electrical energy storage unit" (EESU) a.k.a. "electronic storage unit" (ESU) or multiple EESUs/ESUs in order to be able to power an infantry warfighter’s/soldier’s tactical electronics worn on the body, all of which require mobile battery power. And that’s basically what an electrical energy storage unit is: a fancy high-tech battery.
According to EEStor, the electronic storage unit will be ten times lighter, hold ten times more power, and cost half as much as lithium ion batteries. And, the kicker is that…
they’ll reportedly charge MUCH faster than lithium ion batteries, and can be recharged an infinite number of times with no degredation of performance. Supposedly, it will be possible to fully charge/recharge an EESU designed to power a car for 300 miles within five minutes. Assuming that’s true and not just EEStore company hype, that’s pretty impressive. Then again, it might just be a bunch of company hype. Since EEStor already has a patent (PDF) on the technology, they’ll be in pretty good shape if the technology’s actually viable. But, right now, that’s a big "if".
But, back to body armor for a second. earth2tech is reporting that Lockheed has a patent that "says that an energy storage layer of the garment could have a thickness of .5 centimeters to 2 centimeters, and there could be multiple layers of energy storage units. The garment would include electrical connectors, electrical ports and an energy management system." Toby Thomas and David Hoelscher are named as inventors of the ESU device.
This could, of course, be an attempt by Lockheed Martin to do with military body armor what it’s done with aerospace (aircraft and missile programs) and vehicle programs, which is drain "Uncle Sugar" a.k.a. DoD out of a lot of development money over time, whether or not the technology proves viable in the end. If it doesn’t work in the end, who cares? Lockheed will have already made a ton of money in development, and then it will be on to the next project.
DefenseReview is curious as to whatever happened to Nikola Tesla’s wireless electricity technology, which could theoretically be used to power infantry warfighters’ electronic equipment, robotic vehicles (UAS/UAVs and UGVs), etc. remotely. Much more recently, a group of MIT researchers have been working on their own wireless power technology concept that utilizes electromagnetic resonance.
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