Technology

Energy Beams Could Change How Militaries Operate

A new way of transmitting energy could reduce safety risks and the use of wires.

The new concept involves energy beams which could cut the use of wires on the battlefield (Picture US Department of Defense).

The US Naval Surface Warfare Centre has unveiled a new energy concept, where wires could be replaced by beams.

The idea was displayed during a demonstration, and it has been suggested the concept could transform the way the Armed Forces use its energy.

It will take form in two 13-foot-high towers, one of which is a two-kilowatt transmitter, while the other is a receiver of light converted into energy.

Paul Jaffe, the Power Beaming Lead at the US Naval Research Laboratory said: "The power itself is invisible and completely silent.

"The safety systems make it effectively impossible for anyone to be exposed to hazard levels of energy,” Mr Jaffe added.

Part of the three-day-long demonstration at the Taylor David Model Basin in Maryland saw the beam delivering 400 watts of power across 325 metres, from the transmitter to the receiver.

Energy Beams in action with US troops credit US Department of Defense
The US were the first to trial the new concept (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Tom Nugent at Powerlight, said: "We’ve been delivering over 400 watts of DC power that we plug into an inverter so we can plug AC devices into it.

"If you have a small generator, it’s about half of that running lights and laptops and even coffee makers.

"The point of this demonstration wasn’t to maximise the power, this is to show a system which is fully integrated, and it is safe, which is really a world first," Mr Nugent said.

The organisation behind the demonstration, PowerLight, formerly known as LaserMotive, has previously won two Nasa government awards and advanced five generations of technology systems.

Energy power beams Credit US Department of Defense 23.10.19
The energy beams could be used to charge batteries and minimise the use of wires (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Jordan Kare, Co-founder and Chief Scientist at PowerLight said it is the only "organisation that has built and fuelled a working power beaming system".

It claims the energy beams will lessen the safety risks of generating, transforming, storing and distributing electricity over copper wires.

Eric Follstad, Future Concept, CentCom said: "Now we can do ground to air refuelling or recharging of some of these electric platforms that we’ve got flying.

"I think once the cat is out of the bag with this concept, that it proves it can do what it is, it’s going to be a big rush to develop some sensors that you could uniquely use for power beaming scenarios."