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In the past, the U.S. Army has estimated that about 70% of the material brought to battlefields, considered by weight, is fuel. That could all change now that Lockheed Martin has won a $3 million contract for solar jobs, creating and integrating solar panels to work with fuel cells.
In war zones, the primary way of keeping computers, electronics and other devices up and running is currently with diesel generators. Getting the required amounts of fuel to the generators can be a logistical problem, and sometimes requires delivery convoys, which can be targeted by insurgent groups. The military has been looking for a more efficient and safe solution for some time.
Lockheed Martin began marketing fuel cells created by a Cleveland-based company, Technology Management Inc., to the military several years ago. The fuel cells are more efficient, not to mention more quiet than diesel generators. They can also be set up right inside military tents, instead of having to be placed a significant distance away.
With the solar jobs contract, solar panels will be developed that will enhance the efficiency of the fuel cells even further. According to Lockheed Martin, the goal of the 32-month solar jobs contract is to cut the military’s fuel use in half. As the military currently uses over 100,000 generators around the globe, the potential for saving money and energy is promising.
Benson Lee, President of Technology Management Inc., is optimistic about the way solar jobs could enhance the performance of his company’s fuel cells. “When you combine them you get more availability. The overall logistical footprint is reduced.”
Fuel cells that are powered in part by solar panels would be able to generate a great deal of electricity from natural, renewable resources, reducing the need for dangerous convoys. They will primarily be used by the Marines.
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