Friday, March 9, 2012

6-Pound Charger Flexes Muscle in Halls of Power

Battery charger takes center stage during Senate budget hearing.

It’s not often that objects as small as battery chargers and solar blankets become the center of attention at a U.S. Senate budget hearing where multibillion-dollar programs are discussed, but for a few minutes of the March 8 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, U.S. Army officials touted the need for such items to take a load off of the backs of soldiers.

John McHugh, secretary of the Army, estimated that one platoon on a 72-hour mission requires 400 pounds of batteries. He compared the Modular Universal Battery Charger to a predecessor system, which would require four chargers to do the work of one Modular Universal Battery Charger. Those four chargers weigh a combined 85 pounds and must be plugged into a wall for power. “This little 6-pound recharger is able to work off of just about any available source of energy,” McHugh said. Possible energy sources include a solar blanket, tactical vehicles or residual power from used batteries. The chargers, he said, “take enormous weight off the backs of our soldiers, provide them greater operational flexibility and allow us to reduce convoys bringing in fuel, where every fourth convoy results in a casualty. These are important things for soldier safety as well.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the committee, called the device a “four-point success story,” because it improves troop safety and mobility, reduces costs and improves security for energy sources.