approved a statement of task for a study to be implemented by the National Research Council Board on Army Science and Technology.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) requested the National Research Council to determine suitable alternatives for powering future soldiers on the battlefield by accomplishing a study on portable power sources, power management, and low-power electronics technologies as follows:

  1. Expand upon the conclusions from the ARL/CECOM Energy and Power Workshop for the Soldier, held on 15-17 October 2002, through the specification of both impact and feasibility of incorporating power management components, techniques and procedures for powering low-power electronic devices. The specific regimes from the workshop were: 20-watt average with 50-watt peak and 100-watt average with a 200-watt peak for up to 72-hour missions. Address power for high-power draw applications such as exoskeleton applications (1-5 kW average).

  2. Assess electric power technologies to support soldier applications associated with future power and energy demands on the battlefield, e.g. expected OFW operational capabilities for the 2005-2025 timeframe, with emphasis on alternative compact high-power and energy-dense sources, power management and distribution techniques, and low-power electronics such as asynchronous microchips, smart dust, etc. Assess technical risks and feasibility associated with each of the technologies and make recommendations pertaining to their potential efficacy and utility within the context of future OFW operational capabilities. Consider risks associated with technology development, integration of hybrid generators and sources, adaptation of commercial technologies, and battlefield logistics. Systems concepts involving appropriate power sources, power management and low-power electronics are to be specified and delineated.

  3. Update the technologies evaluated in the 1997 NRC report on Energy-Efficient Technologies for the Dismounted Soldier including changes in individual technology development trends. Determine advantages and disadvantages for appropriate technologies in prospective application areas. Develop standard measures to facilitate comparison.

  4. Prepare a consensus report documenting the study results and containing findings and recommendations to assist the Army in its development program. Prioritize the energy source alternatives appropriate to each application. Propose S&T objectives leading to the future incorporation in the Objective Force Warrior program. The report will include:

    1. Recommendations for examined technologies with high benefit for target regimes with detailed justification for technology selection or rejection.

    2. Recommendations for power distribution techniques for soldier systems. Applicability of low-power electronics, such as asynchronous microchips, smart dust, etc., to soldier device loads.

    3. Recommendations for centralized vs. distributed power management for soldier systems including software/hardware techniques for control and conversion.

    4. Applicability of examined technologies to single type sources vs. hybrid sources considering logistics, versatility, utility, environmental factors, safety, reliability, logistic infrastructure, manufacturability and availability.

    5. Recommendation for recharging from soldier carried sources, robots (or vehicle) or fixed platforms.

    6. Recommendations for predictive models and modeling techniques that would elucidate power use and management.


The statement of task contained multiple tasks requiring specific areas of expertise to ensure their accomplishment. As a result, committee members were selected who had expertise in the relevant technologies, including primary and rechargeable batteries, fuel cells, electrochemical devices and systems, small engines, hybrid systems, and low-power electronics and design, as well as in military logistics and operations.

The chair determined that to accomplish its primary task, the study should rely on the expertise of the members to make realistic assessments of the possible solutions in each of the regimes and to focus on technologies that can enable systems within the near, medium, and far terms. Technologies that can enable viable power/energy systems were then compared and ranked. The assessments also provided the basis for identifying suitable Army research objectives.

The committee evaluated Army progress toward resolving soldier power issues by reviewing the LW-SI acquisition program and the OFW-ATD. It received briefings on anticipated soldier applications in the higher power regimes from both the Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The committee assessed advances in low-power electronics and investigated applicable areas of power distribution and management. It updated earlier assessments of trends in commercial electronics contained in NRC (1997) and developed future warrior design concepts. It then reached consensus on its specific recommendations for the Army.

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