back to article UK boffins to develop 'Solar Squaddie' electro-uniform

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 …

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Gold badge

Umm, obvious flaw

They're creating a "solar powered" uniform in the *UK*?

/me falls off chair laughing..

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Happy

FTFY

They're creating a "solar powered" uniform in *GLASGOW*?

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Silver badge
FAIL

Don't scoff

It's for use in dense jungle or in the arctic during the winter.

We are Brits - our history of supplying troops with the right equipment is legendary (I used to work with an ex-soldier who was among the first in to Iraq)

It won't be waterproof as it's designed for sunny days.

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Boffin

why not?

it'll let them go to sunny places on expenses

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Coat

Re: Don't scoff

Deep fried hoomin bars.

You're right about the equipment; the MoD refused to supply cold weather gear to Lawrence of Arabia fame, when he told them of the snow. To them the desert was a warm sunny place, forget the minus temperatures at night and snow. Never happens. And the standard issue Ruperts weren't so bloody clever either. Literally.

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No Batteries Required?

Erm... call me mr silly if you want but the power being harvested is going to be stored where exactly?

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Boffin

Storage

My dad had a bike with a dynamo lighting set where the power pack was a cylinder about 8 inches long.

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Power Pack

Power pack = battery? (I'm not an electrical angineer so...?)

What I was hinting at was that they are trying to stop the need for soldiers to carry around heavy batteries. How will this help. The power harvested STILL needs to be stored somewhere until it's needed... ie batteries.

Now carrying fewer batteries because they can always be 'topped-up' is quite a good idea. And if this new clothing will do that cheaper/lighter/more efficiently than current technology then great.

I'm guessing not though.

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spares?

they currently probley have to carry 2 or 3 backup sets it is probley the waight of thouse they are getting rid off

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Silver badge

Umm....

...if it is working on the temperature gradient between the inside of the battle dress and outside, won't that have the effect of chilling the soldier? Their heat energy has to go somewhere.

Why not just go down to the local camp store and buy them out of the solar/wind-up chargers, solar back-packs etc?

This seems like a lot of money for stuff that (basically) already exists.

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Thumb Up

thermal signature

The thermoelectric generation at night, if the system can be configured correctly such that it operates solely on the energy that would normally be emitted, in theory you could reduce the thermal signature of your soldiers.

i.e. thermal stealth for soldiers.

They have systems that do this already, but integrating into standard uniforms and getting power at the same time could be a winner.

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Happy

Thermals

One question would be does the system draw of thermal energy from the squadie?

If it does, hypothermia and full batteries are not that usefull.

The other question is does effect any of the other ways of detecting stationary or moving troops?

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Peltier

If the thermoelectric effect is similar to a peltier in nature, you could feed power back in to heat/cool the soldier as needed

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Coat

Electrical weapons ?

I hope they do a better job with this than with Bowman.

Mine is the one with the integrated power station.

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

As many have said - repeatedly

Better

Off

With

Map

And

Nokia

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Grenade

It was a dark and stormy night...

and because they didn't carry batteries, none of their gear worked.

I foresee future wars fought on a "From Dusk till Dawn" basis of using sharp sticks until the sun comes up.

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Happy

sun worshipers

Why do I get the vision in my head of soldiers emerging slowly from their nightime hiding places and all facing the dawn sunrise with their arms spread, unable to do anything until their core body temperatures.....Er....battery charge state.....has recovered.

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Grenade

Does it power

Night Vision goggles?

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FAIL

disappearing up its own thermocouple

At night the electricity generated wil be used to drive a body heater.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Useless function is useless

Just a very quick question.

Why use solar and body heat ??

If you can generate enough power from body heat why bother with solar power during the day ???

just use body heat day and night.

I'm guessing armpits and crotch area will be the major power plants.

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Stop

Thermoelectric

Thermoelectric works on a temperature differential, if it's during a hot sunny day in the desert, the temperature differential is lower.

Hence, less power.

Hence the need for solar.

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Unhappy

Is this going to be made in China, too?

The last high-tech uniform the MOD ordered ended up being manufactured in China, will this one as well?

Given the recent kerfuffle over stolen Renault battery plans and research it would appear this Brit technology should be made right in the UK.

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Joke

Re: Is this going to be made in China, too?

And they'll probably put a nice RFID tag in the uniform to help the stores and inventory taking.

(if you see MoD (PE) in action you may not think this is a joke)

enabling China to then sell troop detecting RFID scanners. (1 job 2 sales!)

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Gold badge
Stop

Note that military batteries are *not* the the stuff you get at Tesco.

Like most military kit they are heavier lumps and usually rectangular. Completely incompatible with civilian hardware. I've seen prices for rechargeabless in the £100s range.

Personally I think they'd have done better with going the power MEMS route and building a battery form factor generator, preferably with *multiple* plugs. a package the size of a lunch box which could generate <= 100W for 24 hours (top up with more JP8 as needed) could go a *long* way.

Making a combined PV/thermoelectric/Cammo fabric that meets *all* the other specs for military protective "systems" will *not* be simple.

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Joke

Not so military..

I can see use for it while camping. Camp fires will recharge my GPS and cell phone (for emergencies, right?) at night. Just must be sure to sleep by the fire. Camping with a blanket of stars is so nice.

I don't see much use for this thing in, you know, winter.

Coat, dry food, flashlight, GPS, canteen, check. Oh, don't forget the lighter for the camp fire.

FAIL.

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Happy

Store it in nature's pocket

Solved now, innit?

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Wait a minute...

<quote> 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. </quote>

Thermal generators of the type described above work by "moving the heat" (yeah, I'm dumbing it down) between the high-heat area and the low-heat area - the reverse of how a fridge/air-con works, where they *use* energy to *force* the movement of heat.

So, not only will this thermal generator make the poor wearer *colder* at night (as someone already pointed out) but by definition they will generate a more visible heat-bloom on any thermal-sensitive scanners (which will be used as part of night-vision in any decent night-time operation).

Double-fail!

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FAIL

#Error 4356

The amount of heat drawn off will be proportional to the power draw, so if you can regulate the power draw to be equivalent to the users regular heat emission (above clothes!) the user loses no more heat than usual.

The thermoelectric effect works on the temperature differential, yes heat is drawn across, but if say 60% of that heat energy is converted into electricity, you are reducing the thermal signature, by 60% not increasing it.

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