A few weeks ago I met a fellow blogger. However, instead of writing about solar energy, he writes a blog about guns called LooseRounds.com. Before he started writing this blog he served in the Marines.
We started talking about solar energy and he told me how one of his friends had come up with a crude way to stick some solar cells on the modified stock of his AR15 (click on image above to enlarge).
Here is what it looks like on an actual M16:
When I asked him why he did that he said the solar cells could recharge some of the extra batteries that are typically stored inside the stock of an M16 which are used to power the scope, as well as, any flashlights that are mounted on the rifle.
He went on to explain that Marines out in the field go through a ton of batteries that they end up simply throwing away once they are used up and he figured that if those batteries could be recharged via solar cells mounted on the stocks of their rifles it would help eliminate some of that waste.
It would also help save some money and help lighten the load a typical Marine is forced to carry in their backpack due to all of the extra batteries that they have to keep on hand to make sure their scopes and the flashlights on their rifles have adequate battery power. Lastly, if you could reduce the amount of batteries the Marines require it would in some very small way be one less thing vulnerable supply convoys would have to constantly transport out to those Marines serving on the front lines.
Stanford researchers have succeeded in developing the world’s first peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells. The advance is described in a paper in the December 20th issue of Scientific Reports. A new ‘transfer’ style application process allows thin, flexible solar panels to be applied to virtually any surface from business cards to roofs to window panes.
And yesterday I read about how Alta Devices whose flexible thin-film solar cells have set NREL verified efficiency records is now targeting the military market:
In a marketplace with viciously plunging solar module costs what strategy best serves a startup solar cell manufacturer? Well, if you’re Alta Devices, you stay away from rooftops and solar fields, at least for now, and go after military and portable markets.
Call me crazy or naive or ignorant or a combination of all three, but I can’t help think that between those researchers at Stanford University and the engineers at Alta Devices that there might be a way in which they could figure out how to turn this solar powered M16 prototype concept and into an actual scalable solution that our soldiers on the battlefield could derive a very real benefit from.