Lightening the Load With Solar Power
A $1.6 million contract with Konarka Technologies Inc. for an unspecified number of flexible solar panels aims to lighten the load for U.S. troops, who must transport and carry batteries to power everything from night vision goggles to GPS units. In the immediate term, these panels could ease the load on U.S. troops and Special Forces, while reducing the military’s logistics requirements. Over the longer terms, it could become part of military structures and eventually find its way into the casing of laptops or even consumer clothing.
Konarka said it would also work to improve its ability to print camouflage-patterned material so that it could be used on military structures, and possibly even on clothing. Rather than relying on camouflage covers that disguise the solar collectors but also impair power generation, Konarka’s materials can be printed with the appropriate images built in while still maintaining their power generating capabilities.
The Army’s Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, which tests and develops battlefield technology, will be evaluating the technology’s suitability and performance.
The company said it is working with partners for commercial applications as well, including mobile phones, PDAs, digital music players, security systems, roofing material and recreation equipment. MSNBC: Army Lightens Load With Solar Power