Feeds

UK boffins to develop 'Solar Squaddie' electro-uniform

Leaches shivering troops' body heat at night

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The cash-strapped UK Ministry of Defence is to ally with national boffinry authorities to create a camouflage uniform for soldiers which will generate electricity, so perhaps removing the crippling load of batteries currently carried by troops in combat.

EPSRC press pic captioned 'Soldier looking towards you, in a fictitious but realistic urban, desert environment, the superimposed numbers are readings for anticipated sunlight'

'Fictitious but realistic'? Better get rid of the blank-firing attachment, then

According to an official statement released yesterday, the new uniform fabric will harvest power from the sun's rays during daylight using solar photovoltaic technology. At night it will switch to an alternative thermo-electric method which will draw power from "difference in temperature between the outside and the inside of a soldier’s battle dress" – essentially running on the wearer's body heat.

"Infantry need electricity for weapons, radios, global positioning systems and many other vital pieces of equipment," says Professor Duncan Gregory of Glasgow uni, one of the institutions participating in the project. "We aim to produce a prototype system within two years.”

The project has been dubbed "solar soldier" and has been assigned £650,000 of funding from the MoD and the government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. More cash will come from Leeds and Brunel universities and a studentship which will be part of the project is to be funded by US weapons'n'aerospace megacorp Rockwell Collins.

On the face of it then, it would seem possible that squaddies will prowl the battlefields of 2013 lightened of several kilos of batteries, their gadgetry powered instead by the blazing sun during the day. The electro-uniform might not be quite so popular at night, where it would tend to eliminate the temperature difference between its interior and exterior - so sucking out the shivering wearer's body heat.

Frankly it seems rather more likely that the infantry application is a light presentational varnish for research into solar and thermo-electric tech which will be used in other applications, quite likely not military at all.

"We also anticipate that the technology that we develop could be adapted for other and very varied uses," admits Gregory. "One possibility is in niche space applications for powering satellites, another could be to provide means to transport medicines or supplies at cool temperatures in disaster areas or to supply fresh food in difficult economic or climatic conditions”.

Read all about it courtesy of the EPSRC here. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.