Rolls-Royce Delivers System To Support Laser Tech

By Connie Lee
Rolls-Royce ColdFire

Rolls-Royce image

Rolls-Royce has developed a new system that combines thermal management and power into one product, which will aid in the deployment of laser technology, according to a company executive.

In December, Rolls-Royce announced that it delivered the system — known as “ColdFire” — to Lockheed Martin for integration and testing. Laser technologies generally produce large amounts of heat because they operate at high levels of power.

Craig McVay, senior vice president for military strategic systems at Rolls-Royce North America, said the company’s product is able to provide power to a directed energy weapon while also dissipating the heat that is generated.

In the last few years, many of the military services have been investing in directed energy systems as they look to modernize their weapons portfolios.

“The idea was to come up with a power and thermal solution that is a single product — it’s a one-stop shop,” McVay said in an interview. “It can be used with that laser weapon to provide the power and cooling necessary, and it’s deployable.”

The system will likely be demonstrated in tandem with a Lockheed-made laser in a desert environment at the end of fiscal year 2021, he said. It was developed at Rolls-Royce’s LibertyWorks advanced technology unit in Indianapolis.

Although it will be used on a 100-kilowatt system for the demonstration, ColdFire has the ability to provide up to 300 kilowatts of power or more, McVay noted. The demonstration is not tied to a specific military program and is being funded by Lockheed’s own internal research-and-development dollars, he said.

“It’s taking that power, using it on the laser and then still dissipating the remaining heat,” he explained.

Because ColdFire provides both thermal management and power in one system, it reduces the amount of equipment that is required to run a laser and also saves space, McVay noted.

Additionally, the product would be able to operate globally under austere conditions, he said.

“That is the solution that I’m quite confident the [military] services are looking for,” McVay said. “They could provide this piecemeal, or they could seek to identify a modular, already compartmented, already built” solution that can easily be put in the back of a truck. 

Topics: Emerging Technologies

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