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Building a “Greener” Force
DRS Technologies Keeps up with the U.S. Military’s New Focus on Energy
The U.S. military is increasingly working on ways to save fuel and energy. Some recent initiatives include the Army’s push to convert waste products into renewable fuels, the Marine Corps’ deployment of a “green” tent complex, the Navy’s goal to cut its oil use in half by 2020, and the Air Force’s use of more energy-efficient engines. Many of these are in line with the U.S. Department of Defense’s goal for the military to cut energy usage by 30 percent by the end of Fiscal Year 2015, compared to a Fiscal Year 2003 baseline. While these innovations are anticipated to generate significant cost savings, the real benefits will be about saving lives.
According to a 2009 Department of the Army study, the Army experienced one casualty for every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan in 2007. Recent insurgent attacks on NATO fuel convoys near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border have reinforced the military’s concern that alternatives to using fossil fuels need to be developed. Additionally, reducing the size of operational convoys will put the lives of fewer soldier-drivers at risk, saving fuel, resources and manpower. And, according to Sharon Burke, director of the Defense Department’s Operational Energy Plans and Programs, “It will allow us to shift some resources from tail to tooth.”
One way to reallocate those resources will be to produce some of the necessary troop sustainment products on site. As an example, bottled water has become the accepted method of supplying hydration to the troops. However, bottled water has historically comprised nearly 60 percent of convoy content. Currently in Afghanistan, bottled water is transported from distant commercial sources to troops either by road or by airlift, at great cost and risk. Recently, DRS provided a solution to the U.S. Army’s program office for Petroleum and Water Systems to address these challenges. The Expeditionary Water Packaging System (EWPS) is an onsite system that produces bottled water where it is consumed. Housed in a standard 20-foot shipping container, the system can be transported to a remote location, connected to any approved, potable water source and almost immediately begin safely producing bottled water onsite at a high rate of production. EWPS is currently deployed to several forward operating bases (FOBs) in Afghanistan, and the benefits are significant. Widespread use of EWPS promises to reduce the shipping volume of bottled water by 90 percent, helping get trucks off the road and keeping troops safe and hydrated.
Power sources, including generators, for the troops also need to be transported via convoys, increasing the risk of soldiers operating those convoys. To minimize this risk, DRS has developed On-Board Vehicle Power (OBVP). OBVP is a retrofittable kit that fits a transmission integral generator on a variety of military vehicles. It does this without additional belts, bearing, shafts or seals to the vehicle and does not affect drive train length. With power producing capabilities ranging from 10kW to more than 125kW, OBVP increases mission capabilities by providing power to a wide range of military systems including command, control and communications centers. It provides critically needed power within minutes of arrival on site and can be operated by a single person, cutting down on operational manpower.
Similarly, one product that has demonstrated significant energy savings in repeated tests is the XM1124 Hybrid Electric (HE) HMMWV. The HE HMMWV is an advanced series hybrid electric vehicle that can operate in an all-electric mode or in a hybrid mode. The all-electric mode allows the vehicle to run quietly for up to ten miles. While in the hybrid mode, the HE HMMWV uses fuel to power the generator, which recharges the batteries. The HE HMMWV is also able to export a substantial amount of electricity off of the vehicle, for things such as large air conditioning systems or field hospitals. Like the OBVP, the HE HMMWV eliminates the need for convoys to carry generators separately. Additionally, recent government testing has shown that the HE HMMWV consumes 28 percent less fuel than the standard M1113 HMWWV, while maintaining about the same acceleration and performance.
Another initiative that helps cuts down on the number of vehicles transporting fuel is the DRS Modular Fuel System (MFS). Currently under contract with the U.S. Army, the MFS provides a fuel distribution capability that receives, stores and distributes fuel at a fraction of the time required for a collapsible tank system. More importantly, the MFS’ 2500 gallon (9500 liter) tank module mounted on a trailer enables one 2500 gallon fuel truck to haul 5000 gallons (19,000 liters) of fuel at one time. This truck/trailer combination can thus effectively cut in half the number of fuel trucks and drivers required for fuel convoy operations, saving both fuel and lives.
One of the Army’s energy initiatives involves eliminating waste by turning it into renewable energy. DRS’ Combined Heating and Air Conditioning Medium Mobile Power System, or CHAMMPS, can assist with this initiative. Unique because of its ability to supply heating, air conditioning and power all in one unit, CHAMMPS captures the waste heat off of its own engine and turns it into usable energy. DRS is currently working to upgrade CHAMMPS to be even more efficient in the near future. The next generation CHAMMPS is expected to incorporate inputs for solar and wind power to limit dependency on fossil fuels.
The U.S. Navy has recently set some ambitious energy goals, many which will need to be implemented within the next 10 years. One of these goals will be to mandate that energy usage, efficiency, life-cycle costs and other such factors be part of the Navy’s decision when acquiring new equipment or systems. To do this, the Navy has been challenged by U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to sail a “green” fleet by as early as 2016. DRS’ Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) system is one of the products that may help make the fleet greener.
“Our Hybrid Electric Drive will provide dramatic fuel savings to the fleet,” says Roger Sexauer, president of the DRS Power and Environmental Systems Groups. “It is at the forefront of the Navy’s current energy efficiency initiatives.”
Designed to provide propulsion power at lower speeds by integrating the permanent magnet motor with the ship’s main reduction gear, HED is estimated by DRS engineers to be able to provide more than 504,000 gallons of fuel savings every year for U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers equipped with HED. This will translate into a savings of approximately US $3 billion over the life of 66 of these ships, with a carbon dioxide emissions savings of approximately 10.7 billion pounds. Although HED is currently still in its test phase, it is scheduled for an at-sea demonstration in 2012, and its prospects look promising.
Other energy-efficient products are in development and DRS first and foremost, strives to practice what it preaches. Green Initiatives have been widely embraced by the company, more often than not with a lot of employee-generated energy and multiple projects. Recycling chemicals and scrap metals, using earth-friendly products, including lighting upgrades and incorporating better insulation in its many locations, are just a few of the initiatives that DRS facilities have adopted recently that will go a long way towards ensuring a better end product.