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US Army's Boot-Based Energy Harvester Lightens Soldier's Load
11/21/2011

The SPaRK biomechanical energy harvester produces 6 to 9 watts of continuous electricity from walking.  (Credit: SpringActive Inc.)
The SPaRK biomechanical energy harvester produces 6 to 9 watts of continuous electricity from walking.
(Credit: SpringActive Inc.)

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Gusman
User Rank
Iron
Impractical idea, but stay tuned.....
Gusman   11/22/2011 2:40:51 PM
NO RATINGS

This is really an impractical idea for the reasons other posters have mentioned.

Nevertheless, I would expect it to morph into an email coming our way shortly, in all-caps, of course, to the effect of "Obama forcing our heroes in Afghanistan to go green and recycle their batteries to keep the country pollution free"

 

and, of couse, a certain crowd will swallow it.

"I saw it on the internet, it must be true"


Mexjewel
User Rank
Iron
Re: 100# pack is bottom-line
Mexjewel   11/22/2011 2:12:07 PM
NO RATINGS
Dear Azny - I failed to note that I was only adding the wheel assembly/generator to the pack. Straps and all would remain for travel on non-paved trails. Not ever  a grunt, I can't say how much walking is on pavement. But I'm sure 100# doesn't add much energy to the soldier. I'd hate to back-pack my luggage through an air terminal.

azny
User Rank
Iron
Re: 100# pack is bottom-line
azny   11/22/2011 1:38:07 PM
good thought, nice try Mex-- but no dice!!--imagine pulling a wheeled pack up a steep rocky incline of 30 degrees in Afghanastan, not only do you have the 100# pulling you backwards, your wheels will get stuck. and a squeek of the wheel on a silent mission would be deadly.

if it wasn't so serious it would be hysterical to see a platoon of troops running around like 3rd graders pulling their wheely backpacks, or airline passengers scrambling with their rollies--- gotta be a scene somewher in Stripes!!!

azny
User Rank
Iron
Re: boot based energy harvester (EH)
azny   11/22/2011 1:26:42 PM
AW-- HumVees have chargers in them, equipment checks prior to mission deployment require the soldiers to make sure things are charged up. If during the mission the IR loses power, the good soldiers carry on ( after all, battles have been fought for hundreds of years without IR at night) the poorly trained ones sit down and cry!!-- US forces thankfully are well trained

Mexjewel
User Rank
Iron
100# pack is bottom-line
Mexjewel   11/22/2011 12:53:00 PM
Take heavy packs off backs. Then put wheels on them. Each axle could drive a small generator while making combat postures possible. Drop the pack handle and grab the rifle. Much simpler than untangling from two pack-straps to fight. Save energy by pulling the pack while charging cells.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Useful solution
Tool_maker   11/22/2011 12:50:33 PM
@George Kaye. You are so right. Does this not sound so typically bureaucratically government? If the problem is batteries then find a way to get the troops batteries. Not some fancy doodad that is going to add wieght and effort to his job.

The article says 20 pounds of batteries, "about 1/5" of his equipment weight. That means each soldier is carrying 100 pounds. It was another war and a whole different army, but when went on an operation with rations for 3 days, our own ammo, 200 rounds for our M-60, claymore mine, flares/smoke, and a LAW my rucksack wieghed in at 70 pounds and kicked my tail. By the end of the day very few of us were in a combat ready state. I question the extra 30 pounds in this article. If there is indeed 30 more pounds today, then that should be the first order of business: get some of that weight out of there.

bja55
User Rank
Iron
Poor Choice of Location
bja55   11/22/2011 12:14:40 PM
Get the device off the foot and put it in a kneepad that most of the soldiers wear anyway.  Make it a hybrid knee "orthotic" & workmans kneepad that can be worn externally on the leg.  It'll be much easier to access in situations where you can't reach all the way down to your ankle to locate a new battery.

MYRONB
User Rank
Gold
Boot-based energy harvester
MYRONB   11/22/2011 11:46:07 AM
NO RATINGS
In all of these energy harvesting schemes, consideration must be given to:  The cost /benefit of a device including weight, ease of use, reliability and other factors versus the actual energy recouped.  For the few watts recouped, the user (the dog-face hauling it around) has a bulky gizmo that may affect agility when climbing terrain and urban rubble, and increase the effort to walk. Remember, that harvested energy has to come from somewhere.

This deal reminds me of a project I consulted on: the client wanted to attach wind turbines to an electric automobile to recoup energy to help charge the car's batteries.  A simple paper analysis showing the fallacy of his idea wouldn't do, so he bought an electric vehicle and paid me to prototype and test wind turbine generators that, as predicted, didn't cut the mustard.

Myron Boyajian, PE

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: boot based energy harvester (EH)
Alexander Wolfe   11/22/2011 11:39:58 AM
NO RATINGS
Azny and Criteria Dependent, I'd like to thank you both for your experienced-based perspective. Re Azny's comment about the variety of batteries and HumVees, that's exactly what I was trying to get at in my earlier comment, though I missed the mark. What is the solution for HumVees? What do HumVee-based troops do when, say, their IR vision equipment runs down?

Criteria Dependent
User Rank
Iron
Re: For Military Dismounted Solders, minimizing SWAP is KING. – Size, Weight And Power
Criteria Dependent   11/22/2011 10:42:37 AM
NO RATINGS
Agreed, As a former infantryman, I can see this unit seriously hampering forward progress. Especially walking in mountainous and rocky terrain. I agree with the previous post, a sealed unit in the sole of the boot might be a better approach.

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