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ARPA-E and Energy Action Month: Security

October 19, 2015

In continued recognition of National Energy Action Month, our second blog in this series will focus on highlighting ARPA-E’s active role in promoting a more secure American energy future. As one of ARPA-E’s three key mission areas, the Agency promotes security by advancing technologies that will reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy sources, creating more stable and diverse domestic energy production options. 

As a partner in security, the U.S. military is one of the largest energy consumers worldwide and heavily relies on energy to keep our nation safe by training, moving, and sustaining forces and equipment. As such, the U.S. military is a natural partner for ARPA-E project teams who are developing technologies to save energy and increase the security of our military. 

The U.S. military has a vested interest in advancing microgrid technologies that can power military bases. Microgrids are electric grids that can disconnect from the larger electric grid and operate independently, which helps alleviate outages and instabilities. Additionally, heating and cooling forward operating bases currently requires a significant amount of fuel, which is expensive and dangerous for supply convoys to transport. Advancing the technologies used for both microgrids and heating and cooling systems could not only help the military significantly reduce its energy demand both at home and abroad, but they could also reduce the number of fuel-supply convoys required on the battlefield and the number of casualties in fuel-supply convoy attacks. 

Due to the fact that the military has a very complex set of energy needs, bringing project teams together to solve tough problems gives the U.S. new solutions and options that could have a profound impact on the entire energy space. Additionally, by collaborating with the military, the technology production process can be accelerated, bringing products and solutions into the commercial market more quickly.  

The video below highlights two ARPA-E projects that have formed strategic partnerships with the military. In many operating zones, the military is limited by their access to energy and projects like those at Primus Power and Georgia Tech can help remove constraints and improve mission readiness. Primus Power is developing a low-cost, energy-dense flow battery that could store enough energy to operate a military base for several days in the event of a disruption. Georgia Tech is developing an innovative absorption heat pump that utilizes exhaust heat to provide heating and cooling, which could cut the amount of energy used to heat and cool forward operating bases by 50%. 

Learn more about these technologies in this video, “ARPA-E: Improving Military Energy Security.”  

Read other Energy Action Month posts:
Introduction to ARPA-E and Energy Action Month