Solar-powered generators could save U.S. military lives

Electricity tends to be in short supply when one is in the middle of the Iraqi desert or the mountains of Afghanistan. It's not like there is an electrical outlet in the side of a big rock on the ground. But U.S. military personnel stationed on the frontlines must be able to operate everything from coffee pots to laptops and radar systems.

Small comforts for servicemen and women, as well as the equipment their lives depend on, all need power sources. Currently, they use generators running entirely on diesel fuel. But, hopefully that will soon change as Raytheon, one of the largest defense technology contractors in the country, has secured a contract from the Office of Naval Research to develop a better generator.

The Hybrid Dish/Engine Expeditionary Generator (HyDE-2G) will use a combination of diesel and solar power and is being designed with several goals in mind, the first of which is to save a minimum of 40 percent on current fuel costs. Doing so not only saves money, but it has the potential to safeguard lives around the world. Beyond the environmental benefits of burning less fuel, the HyDE-2G will actually reduce the threat of attack on U.S. personnel.

Fuel must be transported to forward-deployed warfighters via convoys. These convoys are high-value targets for enemy forces. But, with the HyDE-2G, the military can significantly reduce the amount of diesel fuel that they must transport through hostile territory.

"Delivering fuel to remote locations, whether transported over land or through the air, is expensive and puts warfighters at risk," said Joe Biondi, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business. "Through the HyDE-2G program, Raytheon will help the Marines reduce operational costs and manning; minimize logistical vulnerabilities; and, most importantly, safeguard our warfighters."

In order to make this possible, manufacturers must use cutting-edge technologies, including methods of solar module soldering. Maximum efficiency and reduced weight are essential to make hybrid generators a viable alternative to the devices in use today. American innovation can literally save lives.

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