NATICK, Mass. (Dec. 29, 2014) – The Army took another step toward increasing self sustainment, while saving energy at its contingency bases overseas.
Army researchers recently completed Demonstration 1, the first in a series of demonstrations looking at energy-saving technologies, which will reduce the fuel, water demands and the waste generated for backhaul currently experienced at small base camps in forward operational environments.
The demonstrations support the Sustainability Logistics Basing, Science and Technology Objective-Demonstration, known as SLB-STO-D (formerly TECD 4a). The program was initiated by the Army in 2012, to reduce the cost and risk associated with mounting resupply burden at expeditionary bases, and serves as the guiding framework for the effort.
“The Army needs improved capability to enable independence/self-sufficiency and to reduce sustainment demands at contingency bases,” asserts the SLB-STO-D problem statement collectively developed by the Army Science and Technology Advisory Working Group. “It is too costly, too unpredictable, and too labor intensive for a small unit to carry all required consumables to last for weeks or months at a combat outpost or patrol base. Storage facilities and systems do not meet the needs of these small bases, and resupply efforts are highly unpredictable.”
The primary objective is to reduce fuel consumption by 25 percent, water demands by 75 percent and generated waste for backhaul by 50 percent at extra-small and small bases — all while maintaining standards for Soldiers’ quality of life, or QoL.
Pursuing this objective required a lead organization that understands the relationship between base camp efficiency and QoL measures, provides data-based technology analysis, and has the ability to leverage collaboration with key science and technology partners across the operational spectrum.
The lead for this highly collaborative effort went to the Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, and is being managed by the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC.
“Integrated base camp technology solutions are an enduring problem that impacts Soldier readiness,” said Gregg Gildea, the SLB-STO-D lead for NSRDEC. “We are addressing it through a model-based, systems engineering approach that uses data collection and analysis of both materiel and non-materiel solutions, along with operationally relevant physical demonstrations.”
“The results of operationally relevant Demonstration 1 will provide input to modeling and simulation applications, which will validate the methods used to address this challenge,” explained Gildea. “Army leadership and policy makers will make informed decisions based on the data collected and presented by SLB-STO-D and QoL information.”
NSRDEC’s Experimentation, Demonstration, and Validation Team, or EDVT, is leading the integrated field demonstrations that make up Demonstration 1, which seeks rigorous data collection and analysis of technologies identified as potential solutions to the Army’s operational energy gaps.
“The purpose of the demonstration was to collect data on select candidate technologies in an operationally relevant environment,” said Bill Harris, EDVT lead. “It’s an opportunity to showcase the maturity of these technologies to our partners and analyze their effectiveness.”
In order to replicate relevant field conditions, Demonstration 1 was conducted at the Base Camp Integration Lab, or BCIL, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, which features two 150-man “Force Provider” base camps designed for testing and evaluating Army expeditionary basing programs. While one camp contains the current operational baseline that acts as a control, the other offers an experimental platform to insert and assess energy-saving technologies of the future.
The BCIL’s size and versatility offered an ideal venue to conduct the first phase of Demonstration 1, which focused on extra-small base camps of 50 to 299 Soldiers. Starting with a 50-man base camp allowed SLB-STO-D researchers to establish a baseline of interest and collect data to calibrate technologies for subsequent demonstrations of larger base camps.
“Force Provider is a 300-man camp with structures, but we used it as a surrogate for a 50-man camp located in an austere environment, to demonstrate where technology can fill energy gaps,” said Gildea.
Several of the candidate technologies at Demonstration 1 were developed by partners at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, and the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC. These included solar shades and micro-grids designed to fill energy gaps supporting fuel, water and waste reduction.
The Renewable Energy for Distributed Under-Supplied Command Environments, or REDUCE, is a mobile, scalable, intelligent framework of solar panels that enables remote power generation through a 1.5kW power solution. REDUCE features upgraded energy storage devices and power management controls that reduce the power requirements from generators and provide users with power-status information. The system will reduce the cost and logistic burden of delivering fuel to small base camps.
The On-Board Vehicle Power/Tactical Vehicle-to-Grid Module, or OBVP/TV2GM, is a mobile, bi-directional power generation and management system that generates power from the vehicle’s transmission and accepts multiple electrical power-generating input sources. OBVP allows Soldiers to utilize vehicles, solar power systems, tactical generators and host-nation grids to more efficiently distribute the energy needed to power heating, air conditioning and lighting requirements at small base camps. This means that less fuel and maintenance is needed for existing generators.
The JP-8 Fueled, Man-Portable Genset for Power Generation for Expeditionary Small Unit Operations is a lightweight, Soldier-portable, JP-8 fuel conversion kit that adapts gasoline engines for JP-8 fueling. Utilizing this fuel conversion technology will provide Soldiers with more self-sufficiency and reduce the logistical demands of fuel requirements.
Soldiers from the 542nd Quartermaster’s Force Provider Company, were trained on these power management technologies and provided invaluable feedback through a focus group session.
While innovative technologies improve energy-saving capabilities, they do not fully address the QoL issues facing Soldiers at contingency bases, such as the availability of hot and fresh food, the ability to take showers and access the Internet.
For this perspective, NSRDEC utilized the expertise of its Consumer Research Team, or CRT, which develops and conducts surveys that measure Soldier insight about the QoL aspects of a new technology or concept.
“Base camp conditions drive the Soldier’s quality of life,” said Justine Federici, a researcher with the CRT. “QoL affects sleep, hygiene, morale and other factors impacting Soldier readiness.”
“Surveys are designed around seven categories that impact Soldier-QoL, including billeting, security, hygiene, work area, medical care, morale and recreation opportunities,” said Federici.
The survey data and feedback collected at Demonstration 1 will provide researchers with critical input to conduct a “tradeoff analysis” between saving energy and preserving certain QoL standards, Federici explained.
“A QoL model will be provided to the SLB-STO-D and the contingency basing community,” said Federici.
The next phases of Demonstration 1 are scheduled for April 2015, and July 2015, when researchers collect data at 600-1000-man camps and 150-599-man camps, respectively.
The SLB demonstrations will serve decision makers with validated, scientific analysis that balances the energy saving capabilities and QoL standards necessary to make contingency bases more self-sufficient and Soldiers more resilient.