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Navy Bomb Squads Get a Solar Power Upgrade

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the let's-hope-nobody-plants-bombs-at-night dept.

The Military 56

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from TPM's Idea Lab: "The U.S. Navy's bomb squads have a weight problem. To keep their field gear powered up, the typical explosive ordnance disposal unit has to haul fifty pounds of specialized chargers and related devices around, creating an unwieldy and potentially dangerous drag on the operation. Now help is coming from an unexpected source: the sun. The Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2 in Virginia has been testing five prototype lightweight field power kits that include solar cells as a key component. The kits replace fifty pounds of equipment with a compact system that weighs only about nine pounds."

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56 comments

But... (3, Funny)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113240)

I've been told repeatedly that alternative energy is just a Liberal tree-hugging pipe dream that destroys jobs and wastes money! Now you're telling me that we can wage more effective war by using solar energy? Well, consider my mind blown. Vote Republican! 'Cause anything else is treason!

Re:But... (0, Troll)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113300)

You: Hello, Bomb squad?

Teh Bomb Squad: Yes, how can we help?

You: I think there's a bomb here!

Teh Bomb Squad: What's the weather like?

You: Overcast and snowing. And it's night.

Teh Bomb Squad: You're gonna die.

Re:But... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113518)

Praised be Allah that He grace us with sandstorms and blot out the Infidel Light of Evil.

Re:But... (2, Informative)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113820)

That's because most alternate energy schemes are just a Liberal tree-hugging pipe dream that destroys jobs and wastes money. That doesn't mean that there's no alternate energy scheme that ever works. It does mean that you tend to need big bucks and an overriding reason to make it work. Oh, like the military.

An outbuilding on my property is a candidate for solar because there's no legal way to get city power to it (for reasons unimportant to this discussion) and -- oh yeah -- the neighbors wouldn't permit the noise of a wind farm. My power needs in that particular building are modest enough that I can consider solar without being buried in panels and deep-cycle batteries, else I wouldn't consider it. The initial cost will be about three times the cost of trenching and running a conduit would have cost (had it been permitted) and I now have to factor in maintenance costs, but I don't have a lot of choices. I guess I should go hug a tree now.

Near my work is a skyscraper with five tiny wind turbines on the roof. I read in the local paper that they provide 4% of the building's power on windy days. But they are pretty, and people can point to them and say "See? Wind power!!!" I guess the CEO should go hug a branch. Or a leaf.

Re:But... (3, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114130)

Yes, it's Opportunity Cost. Long established economics concept used to weigh the various costs for various competing possible installations or concepts for achieving similar, compatible results.

The beef that many of us have with this is not in the raw idea, which is generally sound, but in manipulation of markets that modify opportunity cost by pushing costs off on to others.

There are two fossil-fuel costs one can consider as being pushed off. One is pollution or ecological damage pushed on to society and environment, which some will argue isn't a cost, and the other is subsidy granted to industry by government, which is itself a function of society, which ultimately pays for it.

If subsidies for fossil fuel power sources ended and if the cost to obtain mineral rights both protected the surface owner and required payment to repair the ecological damage caused by exploration and extraction then obviously producing oil or coal would cost a LOT more than they do now. That's not even factoring other pollution generated by the refining or use. Granted, any power source requiring raw materials would incur some of these costs, like raw materials for the manufacture of solar panels or wind turbines, but the costs would be amortized across the years and years that the generating method were in place.

Limited benefits like you discuss, like solar panels in places where achieving grid connectivity is hard, or adding limited wind generation can help, but fixing the markets to reduce subsidy could dramatically skew the numbers in favor of non-fossil-fuel means. There doesn't seem to the be the political will to actually do it though.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37114382)

Most of the cost of solar panel is energy. And that is dirty coal energy from China. And these panels cost at minimum $1/W in panel substrate, never mind any additional gear (frame, wiring, inverter, glass, batteries (massive cost itself), etc. etc. etc.). Change input costs to use solar panel power and the "opportunity cost" is much greater than fossil fuel cost, even counting in global warming and other pollution.

What are opportunity cost for solar panels themselves? Space. And most of all, unpredictability in supply ergo opportunity loss where power is required.

So yes, solar power is great if you don't have power grid. Limited, light and portable generation for limit supply. My calculator runs on solar power too. But relying on it to power the grid is a massive opportunity cost and will completely screw up the economy of almost any nation that wants to rely on terrestrial solar panels.

Re:But... (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114568)

Opportunity Cost is not the same for everyone. I've never said that it was, nor have I ever expected that solar panels, wind generators, or any other particular technology is better for anyone. Lots of people use a diesel-similar oil to heat their homes. Some use pipe delivered natural gas. Some use truck delivered propane. Some use electricity because they barely need to generate heat at all.

Some use natural gas clothes dryers, some use electric. Some line-dry their clothes.

Some use electric air conditioners, some use natural gas air conditioners. Some don't use air conditioners at all.

Certainly high-density housing dwellers, owners of small houses, owners of mobile homes, and people in weather-ill-suited places are probably not capable of personally owning any significant solar or wind. But, there are lots and lots and lots of people who own individual single-family homes in places where they truly can benefit from solar. Would even at little as 20% of residential power generated through solar be worth it? I personally think so. Unfortunately, when we're subsidizing nonrenewable resources like we are now, we'll never get there, even when the real benefits are very possible.

Re:But... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37127884)

Certainly high-density housing dwellers, owners of small houses, owners of mobile homes, and people in weather-ill-suited places are probably not capable of personally owning any significant solar or wind.

A high-density housing dweller who owns their own place is exceptionally capable of having solar or wind capacity -- as they're sharing costs with their neighbours.

Owning 0.5% of a $15M set of shared resources (in addition to 100% of your personal dwelling studs-in) is pretty cheap... and having that many people you're sharing costs with means that what would be unbearable maintenance or repair expenses on your own become negligible.

Why dig in on the "personal" side of ownership?

standard FUD (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119582)

Most of the cost of solar panel is energy. And that is dirty coal energy from China.

Here in reality, many people are successfully building out solar power systems using components built in the USA or Europe using green energy.

http://www.solarworld-usa.com/solar-for-home/why-go-solar.aspx [solarworld-usa.com]
http://www.solarworksforamerica.org/ [solarworksforamerica.org]
http://www.aetsolar.com/ [aetsolar.com]

But don't let me interfere with your anonymous anti-Chinese xenophobic pandering...

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37114494)

Why does your discussion on externalities and subsidies ignore the ones in place for "green" energies? Ethanol perhaps being the worst offender, but wind especially gets heavily subsidized by governments and corporations which hide how hideously costly it is per MW. Solar has some issues with manufacturing byproducts as well.

If every source of energy had its subsidies eliminated and externalities internalized, oil would easily remain the most cost effective form of energy generation. That is why there is no political will to replace it. It is inefficient to do so.

Re:But... (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115818)

My nondiscussion on ethanol and the like is because I do not know, so I do not bring it into the conversation. If you have something to contribute I'd be happy to hear it. That is the whole point on being able to reply to one another.

I won't disagree that fossil fuels are one of the least expensive sources of energy. What I don't understand is why we have to subsidize these massive international megacorporations who are making money hand over fist, while on the other side we allow them to dump the environmental costs off on to us. At this point they'd do just fine without taking our subsidy as raw profit to to tune of a couple billion dollars a year.

Yes, solar has manufacturing byproducts. But, it has no byproducts in use. Get the panels efficient enough and you incur the byproducts issue once, at manufacture, not twice, like fossil fuels, where you incur them both at manufacture and at use. There are also other forms of solar, more suited to industrial scale, like liquid sodium systems and reflector/boiler systems, which also don't exactly generate a lot of use-based waste. There are even other non-fossil technologies like geothermal. An entire island nation powers their fixed infrastructure completely that way.

If you want to be an independent, self-sufficient kind of person who doesn't require society and wants to go lone-wolf, you should be chomping at the bit for Solar. Solar allows you to give the bird to the utility company potentially. Compared to government infrastructure costs, utility charges, and dependency, solar should look great.

A stumbling block, for me, is the fact that no matter what time of year, the electric company here will only pay their absolute lowest rate to a solar electric producer for the excess power sold to the grid, even though with time-of-use plans they're charging an arm and a leg for it, and even though on the exchange market it's going for quite a bit more than that minimal amount. I wouldn't expect a 1:1 situation, but if they'd pay something approaching fair market value when the demand is there then it'd be easier to justify selling power to them, and thus easier to justify buying solar without otherwise adequate subsidy. But, when the utility company, who cries about excessive demand one minute and cries about the threat of independent producers the next can't manage to figure out which it cares more about, it's hard to jump in. Make it easier and suddenly the whole thing opens up. Leave it hard and you're left with difficult to manage power grid with the Sword of Damocles in the form of a massive disruption and blackout just waiting to drop. It's irresponsible.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115848)

Ethanol isn't a green energy source - it's a corn farmer subsidy.

Once you add in the proportion of the defense budget allocated to it, oil would get a lot more expensive.

Re:But... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118426)

Germany, Japan and Italy seem to have the will as they have all sworn off new nuclear plants while also trying to move away from fossil fuels. Japan in particular has few fossil fuel resources, which is why they went heavily into nuclear.

Both renewables and nuclear have a common problem. The companies that want to build new facilities are conservative and don't want to innovate too much. Innovation costs money and there is a risk that it will fail, so it is easier to sell the idea of building more of the same things we have already to shareholders looking for a guaranteed return. That is why renewables are finding it hard to push forwards and why we are still building 60s/70s era designs for nuclear.

Yes, externalities need to be accounted for (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121760)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org]
http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461 [energyandcapital.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power [wikipedia.org]
"Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security is a 1982 book by Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, prepared originally as a Pentagon study, and re-released in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. The book argues that U.S. domestic energy infrastructure is very vulnerable to disruption, by accident or malice, often even more so than imported oil. According to the authors, a resilient energy system is feasible, costs less, works better, is favoured in the market, but is rejected by U.S. policy. In the preface to the 2001 edition, Lovins explains that these themes are still very current."

Reading a lot about that, it seems that renewables have been cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear since the 1970s if externalities are accounted for (including pollution, disease, defense, corruption, other risk). The difference is that now, through decades of hard work by dedicated researchers, renewable are now becoming cheaper even when not accounting for externalities.
http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/ge-solar-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-5-years/ [cleantechnica.com]
""Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co. (GE)," Bloomberg reports."

Re:But... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116854)

Near my work is a skyscraper with five tiny wind turbines on the roof. I read in the local paper that they could, in theory, if operating at peak efficiency while fully load balanced with the building's requirements, which they'll never be because wind, durrrr, changes provide 4% of the building's power on windy days.

EFA. Small wind turbines are in almost every case a complete crock, sold by scammers and thieves [bettergeneration.com] .

Re:But... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114110)

What I want to know, in this case, is what they were fucking up before to go from 50 pounds to 9.

Once you factor in support circuitry, enough structure to keep the cells from easy damage, and maybe a little battery to steady output, 9 pounds doesn't get you all that much panel area. And not that much panel area, especially in less than full sun, means not all that much power output. What were they doing with 50 pounds of payload before? A totally unexceptional, off the shelf, sealed lead acid deep-cycle battery of 40 pounds is rated for a touch over 50 amp hours and 12v(which would still leave more weight in the 50lb budget than the entire new system just for support/DC-DC conversion circuitry...) If you were feeling cost insensitive a Li-poly pack would do considerably better.

Did the previous solution involve a backpack full of car batteries, a 12v-120v inverter, and a proprietary wall-wart for every brand of hardware in their toolkit?

Re:But... (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114462)

I wouldn't be surprised if a "mil spec" power supply, converter, or whatnot is very heavily shielded. Military radios are, as are military computers. Think of a Panasonic Toughbook on steroids.

Thing is, I'd bet some of the weight comes from cobbling things together without a thorough redesign. Frequently military systems are expanded and added on to without a thorough enough redesign, so weight can increase dramatically. This is in part because we don't want to break existing tried and true functionality, but it requires time and testing. It's possible that this slightly more radical redesign is simply in line with a regular redesign to more properly integrate cobbled-together systems.

Re:But... (1)

Troggie87 (1579051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114426)

Personally I'm against huge investments in solar power because not only are the economics not favorable yet, but the realities of storing and transmitting solar power (ignoring the actual panel efficiency and production costs, which still aren't great either) at the present moment make it only marginally useful in very isolated areas. Its not a realistic solution for this generation, no matter how badly anyone wants it to be. With large breakthroughs in battery technology (pretty likely), panel efficiency and cost (pretty likely), and superconductor technology (maybe) in the next handful of decades it may be the perfect solution for the next generation. But huge expenditures and preferential legislation now would be a waste: the groundwork isn't laid and like most research you can't pump money in and expect results to scale with the investment.

That all being said, there are certainly legitimate uses for solar technology right now that doesn't involve industrial power. Solar is great for prolonged field applications where weight and accessibility are issues. This story is a perfect example. Solar powered electric fencers for small and medium livestock is another (up to horse size, I sure wouldn't expect to keep a bull in with one. Not enough juice for something that bends steel like candle wax). It a great time to start a small firm and expand the technology into peripheral markets like these.

What irritates me is when people insinuate there are massive conspiracies to destroy alternative energy like wind and solar in favor of coal and nuclear, and that the only justification for endorsing those "bad" technologies is financial or ideological. What is desired and what is practical very rarely coincide, and most mainstream alternative energy still isn't practical on a large scale. Its not a free market issue, I wholeheartedly wish that embracing wind and solar on a large scale was as simple as a change in tax code or a congressional mandate. But it isn't. And I don't care if oil companies, the NRA, the pope or the goddamn Illuminati say the same thing, it doesn't make the reality of it any less true.

GE says solar power cheaper than fossil by 2015 (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121862)

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/ge-solar-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-5-years/ [cleantechnica.com]

Compressed air, thermal storage in molten salts, and pumping water are all workable solutions for storing power, as are improving batteries and hydrogen production. There are solutions. The big issue is that we don't make coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear pay the true cost for pollution costs, health damage, defense costs, climate change, or meltdown risk.

So, for example, I can't eat fish caught locally in the North East US because of mercury pollution from coal burning power plants in the Midwest US. So, I've lost something valuable, for what in exchange? US Republicanism in practice is the worst sort of socialism -- privatizing gains but socializing costs (not to say US Democrats are often that much better). Thirty years of this worst sort of socialism has done a lot of damage to the USA (might as well have real "socialism" instead, IMHO, because it is hard to imagine everyone having medical care and free college and reliable infrastructure would make things worse at this point):
"Reagan insider: 'GOP destroyed U.S. economy'
Commentary: How: Gold. Tax cuts. Debts. Wars. Fat Cats. Class gap. No fiscal discipline"
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/reagan-insider-gop-destroyed-us-economy-2010-08-10 [marketwatch.com]

Not to say we were not warned, like by Jimmy Carter:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/carter-crisis/ [pbs.org]
"We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure. All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem."

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115432)

I've been told repeatedly that alternative energy is just a Liberal tree-hugging pipe dream that destroys jobs and wastes money!

"alternative energy" in the form of "green energy" isn't even harmless - it all focuses on intercepting and slowing the transfer of energy from one location to another, thereby making summers hotter and winters colder.

Now you're telling me that we can wage more effective war by using solar energy? Well, consider my mind blown.

Not really, no - apparently now all you have to do to defeat the bomb-squad is check the weather.

Vote Republican! 'Cause anything else is treason!

Can't disagree there, even if you're too handicapped to understand the reasons.

So now (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113270)

They only disarm bombs during the day time and weather permitting...

Re:So now (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113348)

I'm just amazed that the sun can be used as a potential energy source here on Earth. That part was completely unexpected. Who knew?

Re:So now (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113426)

If you knew how to read you'd know that the kits also run on fuel cells if necessary. Both are an improvement over lugging diesel generators on your backs.

Emphasize "NAVY" (1)

drnb (2434720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113712)

They only disarm bombs during the day time and weather permitting...

Given that its *Navy* EOD you might want to add only bombs that are on land or at the surface. :-)

Re:So now (2)

leftover (210560) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114146)

No, now they recharge batteries during the day. Remember that each disposable battery they deplete is at the end of an extremely long and dangerous supply tail. Remember also that each unit of fuel to run generators is brought by the same long tail, plus it is in a fuel tank truck -- aka 'Juicy Target'.
Several years ago the military realized they needed a better option. These reports of new systems are the results from multiple efforts to make devices that suit the military environment and needs.

Re:So now (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114572)

Interesting point. I hadn't considered the problems of the supply line. I now see the need for this technology in a whole new light (no pun intended).

I read about this story yesterday, and that news article (which I can't find now to give the link) had a picture of someone wearing camouflage clothing with bright shiny solar panels affixed to their jacket. This picture may have just been a mock up for the news site, but it did show a potential flaw with this idea. It doesn't matter how much lighter you make the technology if it turns the big bright spotlight on the wearer. You might as well draw a target on the back and write "shoot me".

I imagine that the best and brightest at the military probably have some idea about keeping a low profile on the battlefield, so they must have thought about this too.

Re:So now (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116868)

And the expensive solar panels are not a "juicy target"? Yeah ok maybe they don't go boom as nicely, but I bet they're expensive as fuck...

Re:So now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119862)

one batch of solar cells vs many many fuel convoys. It is not that they are hugely less of a target, although the not catching on fire should help, but that in-base solar cells are guarded easily ( at the same time as you guard your troops quarters/ kitchens etc) but fuel convoys must pass though unsecured zones repeatedly.

What kind of panels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113354)

Id love to know what kind and how efficient these solar panels are to power all this high tech gear with only 9lbs worth of panels, power regulators, and possibly some batteries. you'd prob be lucky to power a netbook of 9lbs of off the shelf solar panels, and youd better hope there are no clouds

Re:What kind of panels? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113416)

It's nine pounds of integrated power supply, 100grams of solar cells added to the top but not connected to anything for army marketing purposes. Perhaps they trickle charge a battery.

Re:What kind of panels? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113610)

I'm willing to guess they serve the same function as solar cells with an RV -- keep the batteries topped off.

A bong squad is going to need a lot more energy than what these solar panels will provide for their equipment. Having the ability to recharge passively is a boon, and in wartime means no diesel noise potentially giving away location to snipers, not to mention fuel costs saved by not having to fire up a generator.

Re:What kind of panels? (2)

themaneatingcow (1430127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114104)

A bong squad is going to need a lot more energy than what these solar panels will provide for their equipment.

I don't think the bong squad is going to care too much about whatever is going on around them... And those aren't generators they are "firing up."

"Specialized chargers and related devices" (2)

BenihanaX (1405543) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113374)

TFA isn't any more specific on what "specialized chargers and related devices" are, that would weigh the difference of 40 pounds. Were they hauling ABS's or car batteries around? I could fill a shopping bag with chargers and it still wouldn't weigh more than a few pounds.

Re:"Specialized chargers and related devices" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113486)

It's all the extra batteries and chargers used for the different devices. Remember, the gear is from defense contractors where they get paid extra for their "specialized" batteries. "Standardization? What's that?"

it's not just defense where you have a mess of cha (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113514)

it's not just defense where you have a mess of charges and batteries.

It's

Phones
EXT HDD's
some displays
AV stuff
USB hubs
dsl and cable modems
routers
switch's
web cams
and a lot more stuff.

Re:"Specialized chargers and related devices" (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114554)

so if they have a universal charger why carry all that shit around, this article makes it sound like a breeze, it is not.

Re:"Specialized chargers and related devices" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37117658)

Well and the military is in a unique position to fix a problem like that. They are huge and their defense contractors need their contracts. If they had a spec that they wanted, and mandated that all new projects and all products to be purchased were going to conform to some standard (possibly requiring an obnoxious approval process for exceptions, and exemptions for research)... the contractors would adhere to the standard.

The problem is that the top of the organization, who can make wide changes, needs to know about the need, which is only obvious to the techs.... then needs to pick a standard to push. Once an organization gets to a certain size, it ends up being many smaller organizations. Any fix that the top would try to push for would effect every single one of them, so every single one is going to have requirements and ideas as to what is ideal for them.

I know of an incident where several hospitals wanted to combine bed pan purchases, projecting $1 million a year in savings. The whole plan broke down only after a meeting was called, high level executives, to negotiate. It ended in the deal being scrapped because, they couldn't come to agreement on the most mundane of devices that they use.

Re:"Specialized chargers and related devices" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113488)

I rather suspect most devices the US Navy use are cased in material a bit bulkier than the plastic of the average wall socket charger... and probably aren't standardising on MicroUSB either.

For those who use sane units... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37113404)

50 "lbs" is about 25kg. Quite why that should be considered such a problem, I don't know.

Re:For those who use sane units... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113654)

That's just for the devices. Add in the weight of their body armor, their weapon(s) and the rest of their gear and you see why it's a big deal.

I WANT TO BE AN AIRBORNE RANGER !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113434)

I want to live a life of danger !! Haha, just kidding !!

Huh? Night/Cloudy/Overcast environments? Batteri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113640)

I'm sure the smart folks already thought of this, but what happens when the sun isn't around? Aren't you going to have to have that 50 lbs of material sitting around just in case?

Also, I'm guessing to lessen the problems of night or days with no sun, they're going to have to be carrying around some batteries. Batteries aren't the lightest thing to be dragging around.

Not to mention, aren't we talking about bombs that weigh from several hundred to several thousand pounds? Does the fifty they're already carrying around make that much of a difference?

Re:Huh? Night/Cloudy/Overcast environments? Batter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113708)

Ooohhhhh... these are the guys that blow up the bombs (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), not the guys who are responsible for the care of _our_ bombs. I guess I can see lugging around a diesel generator might not be much fun, but that would be better than having only your fancy solar array when the clouds coming rolling in. Of course, you can be lugging around a few hundred pounds of batteries to make sure you have a few hours of reliable power, but what's the gain?

Oh well, hurray for research!!!

unified distribution system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37113720)

It seems they got the bulk of the weight reduction not by replacing each particular charger with an equivalent solar unit, but replacing all the chargers with a single solar unit with a unified distribution system. The solar thing is just the buzzword to make people talk about it. Portable solar is much less weight-efficient than say, Li-Poly batteries or AC adapter units.

It would seem just as easy and probably cheaper to use a regular high power charger with that same unified distribution system. Like replacing the half dozen or so wall chargers by my desk with a single charger that's just slightly bigger than one unit, plus multiple cables for the devices.

Plenty of daylight in middle east. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37114204)

I suppose most of the use for this type of stuff is the middle east, which has a lot of sunshine anyway... I'm surprised they're not standardized on a single type of power. Hell, use a USB charger for everything.

Adapters were scrapped, solar cells only optional (4, Informative)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37114560)

Guys, you're missing the point.

The weight savings result from doing away with a mess of redundant equipment/chargers etc. that were designed by moronic, egoistic engineers whose idea of standardization is that they are happy to follow any standard, so long as it's theirs.

They were instead replaced by one small and much more lightweight unit that weighs 9lbs instead of 50lbs and is still able to plug into all their gadgets and charge their batteries. (Maybe one day we can do that with laptops and cellphones too ...) This unit can accept power from a lot of different kinds of sources (conventional grid AC, but also DC etc.), they plan to also distribute a set solar cells and buffer batteries, that can (naturally) also plug into this unit - but will almost double the weight of the equipment to about 17lbs. (Still a lot less than 50 lbs, but the usual caveats of solar power apply, so they are quite likely to end up using other sources a lot as well.)

3..2...1.."we just don't have enough sun!"..BOOM (1)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121044)

This terrible loss of life could have been prevented...if only the sun had come out soon.

Soldiers explain why that bomb killed civilians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37124922)

Lt. Milli & Lt. Vanilli: Just blame it on the rain... yeah yeah.
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