Marines learning lessons of operating power systems to reduce power consumption

Forbes has an article that goes into some details of the challenges of the US armed forces in places like Afghanistan.

Marines Pursuing Climate Control Solutions To Reduce Battlefield Fuel Consumption

In the pre-dawn hours on July 18, an explosion ignited a fire that destroyed 22 NATO fuel tanker trucks parked overnight in Samangan province, Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed credit for planting the bomb that struck the convoy, which was carrying fuel to coalition forces in the south. The attack, the first-of-its-kind in northern Afghanistan, according to the BBC, was the latest in a years-long effort by the Taliban to cripple the fighting capability of NATO forces by targeting fuel convoys.








One of the lessons learned is that running systems in energy efficiently can lead to lower maintenance costs and better uptime.

Though relatively reliable, such a system is woefully inefficient. Newell explained that Marines who handle utility services are taught to match the peak load to an 80% load on the generator – if the maximum load is 8 kilowatts, it calls for a 10 kilowatt generator. “I’m in the middle of nowhere; I can’t go without power,” he said.

The problem with a system designed to meet the peak load is straightforward – outside of winter, when demand peaks because of the heating load, the generators are not operating optimally. The median demand in the field, Newell said, is about 32% of the capacity of the generator. This leads to “wet stacking,” where unburned fuel ends up in the exhaust system. Run the generator this way for long and maintenance goes up, the life of the system goes down, and fuel is wasted.

So, to solve this problem, the Marines tried using batteries.

Partner energy storage with a generator, Newell said, and “I can ensure that anytime that generator is on, it’s running at 80% to 100% load. My fuel efficiency went up, my hours went down. I have more quiet hours.