Providing soldiers with the newest, most advanced military systems has historically been a bipartisan issue, and provides an opportunity for cooperation on energy innovation funding in the near future. The Army’s recent report on how investments in energy innovation are making our soldiers more mobile and combat ready, only bolsters the argument:
“In a typical 72-hour mission in Afghanistan, U.S. Soldiers carry seven types of batteries, or 70 individual batteries in all adding almost 20 pounds that U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) scientists say can be reduced with advancements in battery technology research.”
The Army Research Laboratory’s scientists have been making progress on developing cheaper and lighter batteries to lower soldiers’ weight burden, a goal that could have significant impacts on the private sector as well. In February, ARL hosted a Battery Technology Industry day to showcase their efforts to the private industry. Seventeen of their projects, including one on higher voltage Lithium ion (Li-ion) battery chemistry, attracted significant interest from the private sector attendees. As part of their efforts, ARL is soliciting Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) from the private sector to leverage its relative strengths.
The Army’s efforts are the most recent example of the technological spillover that occurs form military investments in technological innovation. The impact of a major breakthrough in battery technologies would join the Internet and GPS as part of a long list of military funded technologies with vast economic impacts. Karen Laforme, an ARL program integrator, provides a perfect assessment of the win, win nature of the efforts:
“We work with our industry partners whenever we can to advance technology in the military sector to support the Soldier in the field. We also understand the enormous opportunities or commercial markets and encourage companies to enter into licensing and cooperative agreements with ARL to adapt our technology to their products and bring these products to the market faster. The goal is to look for opportunities to leverage our technologies through partnerships with private industry. This creates a win-win situation for the Army and industry.”