Technology Today

2011 Issue 1

The ReGenerator: Alternative Energy for Expeditionary Missions

U.S. Marines demonstrate the simplicity of setting up the ReGenerator's solar array during a training exercise in Twentynine Palms, Calif. The integrated, all-in-one design of the product eliminates the need for tools or specialty training, allowing for ease of deployment and sustainment where resources and personnel may be limited or inaccessible.

Military operations in unconventional wars conducted in remote locations have numerous logistics challenges. One of the most prevalent among them is fuel supply. For example, in Afghanistan, because of logistics lines that must move fuel over more than 150,000 square miles — through some of the most hazardous regions in the country — the fully burdened cost of fuel (FBCF) has been estimated to be in excess of $40 per gallon at some of the more extreme locations.1 But more important, the true FBCF is the high risk of attacks along resupply routes, which pose a direct threat to warfighter safety. To help reduce this risk, and to mitigate the high cost of operations in countries such as Afghanistan and other remote areas, Raytheon and its small business and strategic partners have developed hybrid, renewable power solutions that are readily available for immediate deployment in support of ever-changing missions.

Figure 1. The Ruggedized (R-Series) ReGenerator — integrating renewable technologies, battery storage, military standard power electronics, and Intelligent Energy Command and Control (IEC2) — is being evaluated by the United States Marine Corps for expeditionary applications.

The ReGenerator, depicted in Figure 1, is a self-contained, hybrid power system that generates, stores and manages clean energy for on-site use, minimizing or even eliminating the need for fossil-fuel generators or access to grid power. The on-board solar panels, batteries, and power conditioning and control electronics are integrated into a mobile package. The capability to accept and manage numerous external power sources, including generators, fuel cells and wind turbines, ensures that this expeditionary power solution is scalable and flexible enough to meet the evolving missions of the end user.

This product was initially developed by ZeroBase Energy, LLC, with primarily commercial and relief efforts in mind, but its potential value for military operations was quickly recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and various defense intelligence agencies. Leveraging Raytheon's core capabilities and vast DoD experience — and through consultation with customers and end users — system ruggedization, enhancements and customization were rapidly incorporated into the ReGenerator. The ReGenerator is capable of operating in two primary configurations: a stand-alone renewable configuration and a generator-tied configuration.

Stand-Alone Renewable Configuration

The stand-alone renewable configuration consists of single or multiple ReGenerators relying solely on renewable solar and wind technologies for power generation. This setup is optimal for year-round, continuous 24/7 low-power applications in remote locations where refueling operations are restricted. Mountaintop communication relays and border surveillance equipment that continuously require up to 300 watts are prime candidates for this solution. Field hospital power, refrigeration and water purification power requirements are also easily met by a stand-alone ReGenerator.

To meet varying environmental conditions, additional external renewable technologies, such as solar and wind modules, can be added to supplement the power generation of a stand-alone unit. For higher, continuous power requirements, additional ReGenerators can be combined to scale up the energy generation and storage capacity of the system. Command operation centers, tactical operation centers and other similar command centers, as well as disaster relief efforts, can all benefit from this configuration. In this configuration, the ReGenerator is able to provide the operational power required with no fuel consumption, compared with a stand-alone generator that must consume carbon-based fuels.

Figure 2. Projected fuel consumption using a ReGenerator employing solar renewable energy sources supplemented with a 5 kW generator, compared with a stand-alone 5 kW generator at varying continuous power demands

Generator-Tied Configuration

The generator-tied configuration is most advantageous for variable, medium-power requirements where reduced fuel consumption is needed. The ReGenerator, coupled with a standard fossil-fuel generator, can significantly improve the fuel efficiency of the generator through the use of intelligent control and management. It ensures highly efficient operations by selecting the optimal power source (renewable source, generator or battery bank) through autonomic control and smart algorithms, based on the efficiencies of the generator, inverters, charge controllers and renewable power availability. This power is then directed to meet the immediate power demand of the load.

The RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) system and G-BOSS (Ground-Based Operations Surveillance System) utilized by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps for persistent surveillance are examples of prime candidates for this type of scenario. In the generator-tied configuration, the generator supplements the ReGenerator only when renewable and battery power is not available to power the load. This ensures that operational power requirements are met, while reducing fuel consumption to a minimum, compared with a stand-alone 5 kW generator. Figure 2 compares the fuel consumption of a 5 kW generator with a ReGenerator employing a backup generator to supplement renewable sources at varying continuous load demands. Depending upon fuel cost, payback can be as little as four months.


Flexibility for End Users

The ReGenerator power system was designed specifically with the end user in mind. The key discriminator of this platform is the modular, scalable design. Internal power components are consolidated in rapidly removable modules, ensuring that system maintenance, repairs and field upgrades can easily be performed on-site with minimal impact on the mission. System setup and stowage can be performed within minutes by two people, which allows for rapid deployment. Maintenance and repairs can also be easily conducted by personnel with minimal training through a basic troubleshooting process and removal and replacement of plug-and-play power module boards. Transportability requirements of the unit play a significant role in the design. To ensure power will be available wherever needed, the system modules are packaged to meet transportation weight and size limitations for most standard DoD ground and air movement.

Power surety is guaranteed through the use of redundant, military-standard, ruggedized power electronics and a robust communication system selected to meet the harshest environments faced by end users. Redundancy of critical power components and communications ensure that failures within the system will be instantly mitigated, and continuous system operations will be maintained until maintenance efforts can be performed based on mission restrictions.

Smart management of the system is performed by the intelligent energy command and control (IEC2) system, which leverages open standards and a proven systems architecture.

Through its IEC2 system, the ReGenerator conducts autonomic management of power generation, storage and distribution based on smart command and control algorithms. It enables various operational configurations for minimizing the use of fossil fuels, maximizing battery life, and providing clean power during hours of silent operation, which are available through both preset configurations and customized operational scenarios set by the end user. This provides end users with the flexibility to adjust the system's operation to meet changing mission requirements. It continuously adapts to varying conditions by performing load shedding and making intelligent decisions based on two factors: demand prediction, and energy predictions using weather forecasting. External component and environmental monitors, coupled with internal sensors, provide local and remote near real-time mission performance monitoring, data logging and analysis for health, maintenance and prognostics.

Raytheon is committed to reducing the risks to warfighters' lives and helping our customers reduce the logistics fuel footprint, while assuring the power needed for successful mission operations. The company's intelligent, integrated energy systems, as demonstrated by the ReGenerator, meet end-user needs for successful mission operations by providing smart, modular and tailorable solutions.

 

1 Energy Security – America's Best Defense" Deloitte LLP. Nov.18-19, 2009.

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