Australian Soldiers Are Testing New Wearable Solar-Cell Technology

Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

New wearable solar-cell technology developed by the Australian National University (ANU) could lesson the weight Australian Army soldiers lug around on their backs.

Army field personnel carry a variety of equipment, including lights, night-vision goggles, GPS devices and communications systems, which typically rely on bulky battery packs to recharge.

The successfully tested flexible panels are attached to soldier’s packs, utilising innovative SLIVER solar-cell technology, replacing the need for conventional batteries.

Image: ANU

SLIVER cells are about as thick as a sheet of paper and comprise an energy to weight ratio of more than 200 watts per kg.

The Soldier Integrated Power System (SIPS) – a collaborative project between the university’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, the CSIRO and Tectonica Australia – is part of a $2.3 million contract awarded by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

Image: ANU

Soldiers tested the new sustainable tech during a 72-hour training mission, according to Project Development Manager Dr Igor Skryabin.

“The trials were performed by soldiers in a real mission environment with normal usage of power. In overcast conditions the ANU flexible panels produced sufficient power to maintain battery charge. In sunny conditions the panels charged the batteries,” Skryabin said.

“Based on the success of this demonstration, ANU will be commercialising the project outcomes with industrial partners.”

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