Feeds

Pentagon to hold event prior to battery tech prize

Million-buck battery-bomb bonanza beano

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

The Pentagon has announced that it will hold an "Information Forum" event at a Washington hotel to kickstart its portable power-source innovation competition. With the Wearable Power Prize, the American brass aim to encourage development of technology which could reduce the crippling load of batteries carried in the field by modern soldiers.

The entry criteria are simple, but difficult to achieve. Contending systems must weigh 4kg or less and deliver an average of 20 watts for 96 hours, with peak output of up to 200W.

That means the system has to hold 480 watt-hours per kg. Cobalt-based lithium ion batteries, used to power a majority of modern portable kit, don't go much better than 190 Wh/kg; and they don't like high peak loads at all. Other kinds of Li-ion, able to take heavy burst loads, don't even hold as much as cobalt.

The new wearable gear will need to use something else. Options could include fuel cells, though most fuel cells aren't ready for field use. Some are (pdf), but the numbers don't match the Pentagon prize yet.

Other plans for high-density, high-load portable power have included systems running on High-Test Peroxide rocket fuel; but of course that kind of kit carries a significant risk of explosions, fires or similar mishaps. (Even more than Li-ion batteries, that is.)

This isn't necessarily a show-stopper, though. Soldiers already carry ammo, grenades, rockets, fuel-air "bunker buster" bazookas etc. They aren't going to blub about some further piece of gear which could blow up if mishandled or hit by enemy fire; though they'll surely complain about any tendency to brew up spontaneously.

In fact, by definition the risk more or less has to be there. The Pentagon prize rules demand 1920 watt-hours in the prizewinning unit, which is roughly equal to 0.000000002 megatons. In other words, a winning battery pack must contain as much energy as you'd release by detonating several pounds of TNT. Crikey.

Still, prizes can produce amazing stuff, as the Pentagon tell us in an exceptionally erroneous statement:

"Sir Christopher Wren's 40 schilling prize motivated Newton to begin writing the Principia, a hotelier's prize launched Linbergh across the Atlantic, and the X-Prize Foundation helped put Starship One into space."

(Once again: the Pentagon chaps wrote that, not us.)

So if you found the stories of Newton, "Linbergh" or "Starship One" inspiring – or you've got some dynamite battery tech <cough> and want a million dollars – get on over to Washington for the Information Forum

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.