2017 Modern Day Marine Report (Day 3) 21 September
MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Modern Day Marine Exposition at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
What a difference even four years make in the US military. In 2013, a US presidential administration in its second term and an advocate for “going Green”, continued to direct the Pentagon to gain energy efficiencies, and dramatically reduce its oil consumption “habit” where feasible. High visibility media events were the order of the day to tout new programmes and systems being introduced throughout the services around the globe. At this year’s MDM conference, a walkabout the exhibition floor confirmed energy-saving and efficiency solutions are part of military programmes of record, and are fielded with forward deployed units, and other forces. Morrisville, North Carolina (US)-based INI Power Systems (INI) is a company in this sector which caught this author’s attention – and provides one instance of meeting the Pentagon’s current requirements and continuing to push the technology envelope. The company’s portfolio of expeditionary energy products and accessories with hybrid energy solutions range from 500W (watt), 1kW (kilowatt), 2kW and 5kW mobile and portable power platforms. “We stay in that expeditionary, man-portable space,” Christian Chandler, Vice President for US Sales and Training, noted.
A new 500W generator weighs 15lbs [6.8kg], for instance, conforming with service imperatives to reduce the footprint of materiel. The new product, being introduced to marketplace, also meets other operator requirements. The Company Manager explained: “The squad-type, small unit power requirements’ demands have been substantial over the years, with the individual warfighter having so much equipment that requires battery power – and they have to recharge those batteries. They need systems they can plug into to recharge their batteries for their communication equipment, data devices (PDAs) and others.”
The 500W generator was reported to meet the requirements of a soon-to-be announced US Army programme. INI’s core technologies embrace a fuel agnostic strategy. So, while the generators can use JP-8 and other fuels in the Pentagon inventory, “anything you can light a match to, you can use as a fuel source for our generators. And you can mix those fuels in these generators,” Mr. Chandler emphasised.
The logistics implications for forward operating and other expeditionary forces are significant. Another design strategy sets itself apart from legacy US DoD systems – INI’s generators are not trailer mounted – reducing the logistics “tail” – a trailer, a vehicle to tow it and others. “These you can place in the back of a MRZR side-by-side [Polaris Defense utility vehicle] or HMMWV. This is all about ‘right sizing’ to meet the requirement,” Mr. Chandler again emphasised.
Elsewhere in the US military, INI’s 1kW generator is part of the Marine Corps Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy System (GREENS) programme. The company’s 5kW generator has been delivered to the US Air Force. The former Marine Corps officer was then asked about end-user requirements he is observing in the energy sector. Without hesitating, he offered, “going smaller, not larger. It is all about right sizing the generator to the need.” And does this mean, going smaller than its new 500W offering? “No, that is probably about as small as we’re going to go, remembering 15lbs. for a regular combustion engine generator is pretty small.”
While it appears the current technology wall has been hit in sizing, INI is focused on further hybridising its products – keeping the generator off as long as possible in a network configuration to save fuel. The hybridization strategy integrates a renewable energy source – solar energy, as well as a battery source/distribution device. And while INI is a known entity and brand in the US military, the company is implementing its strategy to pursue overseas business.