Alta Develops Solar Charger for Soldiers, Cuts About 25 lb From Pack Weight
January 4, 2013 5:13 PM
New solar mats will also soon be targeted at the consumer market
“We have come to rely on mobile machines and devices that always need a source of power whether it be the grid, batteries, or fuel,”
Chris Norris, president and CEO of Alta Devices. “But in the next decade, we will come to expect mobile power that is transparently available at all times.”
The enterprising solar startup Alta, with some help from the
Army Research Laboratory
(ARL), just launched a reference design that allows soldiers to
drastically slash their pack weight
. Whether it's night vision goggles or a laptop computer, soldiers on average carry around 35-lb of batteries, or roughly a third of their 100-lb pack weight.
The new charger design cuts the battery load by 70 percent, slashing around 25-lb from the pack.
Alta is also working the ARL and other U.S. Military partners to add the company's proprietary
flexible, thin-film solar panels
to unmanned aerial vehicles, allowing them to
stay aloft for months
, or even years.
A marine uses a solar charger in Afghanistan. [Image Source: AP]
Comments Mr. Norris, "There are nearly limitless opportunities for always-available mobile power. We are initially targeting applications where the need is well understood and the opportunity is substantial. Over time, we see huge markets being enabled by this kind of mobile power."
Alta's homepage states that the company is aggressively targeting the consumer and automotive markets with civilian devices. The company's claims its panels carry "world-record cell (28.8%) and module (24.1%) efficiencies". Founded by two top California-area professors in 2008, the company is already turning heads in the defense sphere, but hopes to translate that into commercial success in the civilian market in years to come.
“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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