Military Tests Energy Generating Backpack

By Allyson Versprille
The Marine Corps and Army are edging closer to the development of a system that uses kinetic energy to recharge itself, supplying a continuous source of power to sustain essential devices for dismounted troops.

The Joint Infantry Company Prototype (JIC-P) is managed by the Marine Corps’ expeditionary energy office and funded by the office of the secretary of defense, said Capt. Anthony Ripley, the science and technology lead for the expeditionary energy office. The prototype was developed to “inform joint requirements on dismounted power production, management and distribution as well as water harvesting on the move,” he said.

“This whole thing is one system to try to sustain the dismounted war fighter in an austere environment,” Ripley said.

The system uses kinetic energy generated by the vertical movement of the pack’s suspended load and knee braces worn by service members to produce power in a rotary generator.

JIC-P builds upon a technology called the Marine Austere Patrolling System (MAPS), which won the 2014 Popular Mechanics breakthrough technology award, Ripley said. Its inline water filter, central battery and portable solar panel prevent the soldier from having to lug unnecessary weight into battle. For a 96-hour patrol it decreases weight from about 60 pounds to 13 pounds, according to an Office of Naval Research press release.

JIC-P is equipped with a vest power manager networked into two radios that gauges energy consumption, a central battery, and a backpack and knee braces that harvest kinetic energy to generate power. The prototype, like MAPS, has an individual water purification system. It also comes with a portable photovoltaic solar panel that collects energy when the war fighter is at rest, Ripley said.

“Essentially the system provides power and water ‘on the move,’” he added.

The Marine Corps will host a demonstration of the prototype in October at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where its units will perform an initial evaluation of the technology in an operational environment. Following that, the prototype will be demonstrated in November by the Army at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where soldiers will conduct a limited evaluation of the gear, Ripley said. Full scale company side-by-side testing of the prototype will occur in 2017.

Topics: Science and Engineering Technology

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