In-situ Atmospheric Intelligence for Hybrid Power Grids: Volume 2 (Automated Data Flow Tests)

To achieve battlespace dominance, energy flow characterizations of individual platforms and the aggregate battlespace must be developed to adapt and exploit the variable operating conditions.

Figure 1. Example microgrid electrical load profile

The future battlefield will be filled with multiple dissimilar energy networks including unmanned and manned vehicular platforms actively engaged in cooperative control and communications capable of overpowering an adversary and dominating the battlespace. This chaotic multi-domain operational environment will be limited by variable operating conditions (mission profiles, terrain, atmospheric conditions), copious amounts of real-time actionable intelligence derived from weapon and sensor suites, and most importantly, the energy capabilities of each platform.

To achieve dominance within the battlespace, energy flow characterizations of individual platforms and the aggregate battlespace must be developed with respect to the variable operating conditions. As an example, consider the power-requirement differences between the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator (an unmanned aerial vehicle), the Gladiator Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle, and the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (an unmanned sea vehicle). The predator is designed to provide air superiority, support fires, maneuvers, communication, and coordination-based missions. The Gladiator supports fires, maneuvers, communication, and coordination-based missions. The mine countermeasures vessel is designed to assist with maneuver and coordination-based missions and could be extended to support fire-based missions. Current and future military operations will routinely coordinate with multiple dissimilar heterogeneous systems spanning multiple domains resulting in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).

While the operational domains may vary, each is limited in its capabilities by energy dissipation, storage, and generation requirements. Other critical factors include meteorological/hydrological conditions and the imposed mission profile.

Figure 2. Example atmospheric conditions

Each military vehicle represents a collection of self-contained energy flow networks containing producers, suppliers, and energy storage devices. The aggregation of these networks results in a mobile energy network or microgrid. Such systems also support the ability to interconnect with either stationary energy networks such as a Combat Outpost (COP) and Forward Operating Base (FOB), or temporary ad hoc energy networks, such as vehicle-centric microgrid. In both cases, energy resources may be shared and used to exploit various mission packages that extend the capabilities of the warfighter.

The complex interdisciplinary interactions between the dissimilar energy flows are further complicated by the variable operating conditions, such as system efficiency and mission effectiveness, which may be significantly reduced, inhibiting the ability of the warfighter to maintain current operations. In an effort to minimize system inefficiencies and maintain adequate mission effectiveness, the development of optimal and efficient energy management and control is a key contributor. For energy management that is dependent on atmospheric resources, acquiring and exploiting local atmospheric intelligence is a fruitful strategy.

Figure 3. Example fuel consumption characteristics

Consider an energy network that is commissioned to operate for the next 48 hours. Let this network consist of a 30-kW diesel generator, 10-kW photovoltaic (PV) array (subject to a clear sky), 360-kWh battery storage (at a 24-hour discharge rate), and a variable electrical load. Let the variable load be composed of two load types: one which is invariant of the operating environment and one which is a function of atmospheric conditions (such as the load to run heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC] units). Electrical load, atmospheric conditions, and generator fuel consumption characteristics examples are provided in Figures 1, 2, and 3, respectively. For this example, the resulting electrical load requires 700 MJ of energy. This energy must be provided by the generator, storage, PV array, or some combination of the three. Assuming there is no future atmospheric intelligence, the PV array will likely be underutilized and as a result, excess fuel and energy storage requirements will likely be incurred.

This work was performed by Gail Vaucher, Morris Berman, Gordon Parker, Michael Lee, Sean D’Arcy, Robert Jane, and Thomas Price for the Army Research Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper). ARL-0248


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
In-situ Atmospheric Intelligence for Hybrid Power Grids: Volume 2 (Automated Data Flow Tests)

(reference ARL-0248) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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